Human metabolism is complex and involves optimal balance of several endocrine hormones. Put simply, abnormal changes in your hormones can greatly affect energy consumption, metabolism and energy expenditure, leading to weight gain or obesity.
What are some hormones that may influence the female body weight after menopause?
Menopause is a complex but inevitable transition in the life of a woman that is triggered by changes in the secretion and metabolism of different hormones. Although the pattern and nature of hormonal changes is similar in many respects, it should also be noted that every woman is unique in nature. In other words, the response to hormonal changes may vary from female to female. According to a study reported in Clinical Interventions in Aging (1), investigators reported that the highest prevalence of weight gain over the course of past few decades is reported in women between the age range of 45 and 64 years; attributed mainly to menopausal hormone changes.
There are several hormones known to control primary energy generating pathways to maintain healthy metabolism in the body. Besides inhibiting weight loss, these hormonal changes can also lead to emotional and physical changes; such as changes in the quality of sleep, onset of depression or mood disorders, sexual dysfunction and changes in sexual stamina or capabilities, overall energy levels, mental health status etc.
A few prominent hormones that are known to influence weight are:
- Estrogen: Adequate levels of estrogen in the body are required for the maintenance of normal sleeping patterns, regulation of energy levels, mineralization and remodeling of bones, maintenance of vaginal hydration, regulation of sex drive, elimination of anxiety and depression and control of mood swings. Needless to say, menopause and changes in estrogen metabolism can affect these normal activities and may lead to weight gain. Based on latest medical research, the effects on weight are caused directly by estrogen imbalance as well as a compensatory increase in the serum levels of stress hormones to address these physiological changes.
- Progesterone: Deficiency of progesterone following menopause can lead to mood swings, irritability, anxiety, sleep disturbances, low libido and other changes that directly or indirectly lead to weight gain. Additionally, declining progesterone levels are associated with fluid accumulation, bloating or general swelling that is often confused with weight gain.
- Testosterone: Although testosterone is a male sexual hormone, smaller quantities are present in females as well. Testosterone helps in improving sex drive in females and generates ample energy for sex by metabolizing dietary substrates. Unfortunately, with progressive aging, the amounts of testosterone in the female body gradually decreases which is associated with decreased muscle mass, poor metabolism, deposition of adipose stores and resulting weight gain.
- Thyroid: Decreasing or insufficient levels of thyroid hormone are also implicated as a common cause of unintentional weight gain. Thyroid hormones act as a key stimulator of metabolism and tend to keep body weight in check. However, due to autoimmune condition or organic lesions of the thyroid gland, the serum levels of thyroid hormone may decline and lead to weight gain.
If the deficiency of key hormones is causing abnormal changes in your body and altering your quality of life, you should seek medical help in order to restore the natural hormonal balance.
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