Many women gain weight as we age. Researchers have tried to figure out how much weight gain is due to the menopause transition, and how much is due to aging. Here, we focus on weight gain due to the transition. For the treatment section below, we looked for evidence for what works for women during the menopause transition. The evidence is scant.


Women who have a natural menopause lose lean body mass (muscle), and gain fat in the 8 years before the final menstrual period. For the average woman, the scale registers these changes as a small, gradual, weight gain. For the two years before our final menstrual period to two years after we gain about a pound a year, on average. About 2 years after menopause things settle down, the ratio of lean mass to fat quits changing, and weight stays steady.

Women who weigh more before menopause may gain more. Average weight gain is about half a percent per year in the 8 years before the final menstrual period. That means 0.6 pounds per year if you weigh 120 pounds, 0.8 pounds per year if you weigh 160 pounds, and 1 pound per year if you weigh 200 pounds before menopause.

Body mass index (BMI) also tends to go up over time. BMI is a measure of your weight that considers your height. There are many free websites online that can help you calculate it. BMI tends to increase steadily during the 8 years before the final menstrual period. BMI goes up the most a few years before and after your final menstrual period

Postmenopause our weight usually doesn’t change much. But many of us continue to lose muscle after menopause. Some women lose a little height due to bone loss. We may find that our clothes fit differently when the increase in body fat finds our waist or hips, even if our weight remains about the same.

Here are some numbers from a study of post-menopausal women for 7 years.

  • In their early 50s, Women gained about 4 ½ pounds.
  • After age 55-59, women gained only 2 pounds.
  • Women in their early 60s gained a little for a few years, too.
  • In the late 60s and during the 70s women lost weight – 5 ½ pounds on average.


Many women going through natural menopause gain a little bit of weight each year before their final menstrual period and for the next 1-2 years. After that, weight gain slows down, and women may even lose a little weight by their late 60s and early 70s.

Women who have a hysterectomy but keep their ovaries gain weight at about the same rate as women who have a natural menopause.

Women who are under 50 years old when they have their ovaries removed tend to gain the same amount of weight as other women their age. However, women who are older than 50 at the time of their surgery tend to gain more weight post-surgery than other women their age (about ½ pound per year on average).

Studies have looked at differences by ethnicity. White and Black women followed the patterns described in the prior section. Japanese American, and Chinese American women on average did not gain weight gain during the menopause transition. We did not find separate statistics for Hispanic women.

The most important thing to remember is that, overall, weight gain during the menopause transition is not usually large. Just a few pounds. But our bodies do change – with more fat mass, and less muscle mass. Because fat takes more space than the same weight of muscle, you may find your body changing in ways that don’t seem to be reflected in the scale. And of course, these numbers are averages across many women. Your personal experience may be different.


  • Physical activity including aerobic exercise and strength training may help you gain muscle. Larger muscles help your body burn calories more efficiently, which can help you control your weight and avoid weight gain. Experts recommend 150 min a week of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking and strength training exercises at least twice a week. Physical activity alone is typically not enough to lose weight. Research is needed to understand the role of exercise in controlling weight during each phase of the menopause transition and after menopause.
  • Acupuncture has not been tested specifically for relief of perimenopause-related weight gain. For the general population of overweight adults, it may increase weight loss when combined with lifestyle changes such as improved diet and exercise. On it’s own, acupuncture decreases body-mass-index (BMI) by a very small amount, compared to a fake acupuncture procedure.
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction training can help with a modest amount of short-term weight loss. It is typically combined with another approach, such as diet changes or mindful eating. The approach need to be tested specifically with women beginning or in menopause, and long-term studies are needed.
  • Hypnosis
  • Other strategies for weight loss and avoiding weight gain
  • Hormone Therapy  – while hormone therapy would never be prescribed to promote weight loss, it does have a small effect on weight gain and weight distribution.


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