Your body may look different once you reach menopause, including your belly size. But genetics, eating patterns, stress levels, and exercise habits can also play a role.

As you approach the age 50, you may notice that your periods are becoming more sporadic or are shorter than they used to be.

This is an indication that you are approaching menopause, a natural part of aging. Perimenopause is defined as the months or years of transition before your period stops, and menopause is marked by going 12 months without having a period at the end of this transition.

In addition to your monthly period coming to an end, menopause also causes a lot of other changes for your body. Changes in your body’s hormones and rapidly shifting moods are common, and you may notice weight gain around your midsection. Some people refer to this symptom as “menopause belly.”

Your body shape may change without weight gain, or you may gain weight that all seems to land around your midsection. It may feel like it’s just inevitable to experience this belly bulge as you age, but there are actually a lot of factors that you can manage.

Belly bulge before and during menopause can be related to, and influenced by, several different things going on in your body at the same time.

Hormonal changes and weight gain

As you approach menopause, the levels of estrogen in your body drop rapidly. At the same time, levels of a hormone called androgen increase. This can cause a hormonal imbalance, which in and of itself can cause weight gain.

People who have a hormonal imbalance may also experience a new level of hunger. You may also notice that you’re hungry for different types of foods. Just like your periods might make you crave salty, sweet, and carb-rich foods due to hormonal shifts, menopause can do the same.

The average weight gain for women during and after menopause is around 4.5 pounds.

Menopausal bloating

Bloating is a common symptom of perimenopause and menopause. Your abdomen may shift and enlarge throughout the day, depending on what you’ve been eating. Water retention or gas retention can be the source of this type of bloating.

This bloating is not weight gain, per se, and it might resemble bloating that you’re used to from when you had your period. Once you stop getting your period, you may find that you do not experience bloating anymore.

Body mass shifting

Your body shape may change during and after menopause, and that’s natural. Fat that is present on your butt and thighs may move to your belly. You may find that even though the number on the scale is not moving that much, your clothes are not fitting the way that they used to. This is connected to your diet and genetics, but it’s also just a consequence of the hormonal changes in your body.

Your body might look different due to menopause, and that’s OK. It’s still important to stay within a moderate weight range for your height and body type.

Talking with a doctor can help you figure out what a moderate weight looks like for you.

You can also consider factors like your body mass index (BMI). Keep in mind, however, that measurement tools have limits in terms of what they can tell you about your unique health circumstances. Weight loss is possible during and after menopause, if that’s your goal, but it just might take a little longer than it used to.


You may be able to shift some belly bloat from menopause by switching up the way that you eat. High fat, sugar, and salt consumption are linked to excess weight gain during menopause.

A diet high in fiber and antioxidants can help decrease the oxidative stress that your body is going through during the menopause transition. Berries, nuts, kale, and even dark chocolate have antioxidant properties.

Iron-rich and calcium-dense foods can help relieve some menopausal symptoms, like changes in mood and hot flashes.

Cutting out caffeine and alcohol can also help reduce hot flashes, which may help you sleep better and, in turn, help manage your symptoms.

You should also drink as much water as you can to help your body flush out toxins and stay hydrated. A doctor may also share advice about nutritional supplements you can take during this transition.


During menopause, you might find that your energy levels are decreasing. That might make you feel like you do not want to exercise. But staying active during the menopause transition can make a huge difference in shifting weight from places that you do not want it to go.

Exercise does not have to mean an intense workout. A walk outside can get your heart rate up while also increasing your daily dose of vitamin D, which can help you lose weight.

Other low-impact workouts like yoga can help you:

  • maintain flexibility
  • improve your bone density
  • give you defined muscle tone without putting stress on your frame

Reducing stress

Reducing stress and anxiety can curb some unhealthy eating habits. What’s more, stress can actually be part of the reason why you’re experiencing belly bloat.

The first part of reducing stress is letting go of the idea of what your body is “supposed” to look like. Stressing out over your postmenopausal body is not helpful for losing weight in a healthy way if weight loss is your goal.

During and after menopause, focus on incorporating activities into your daily routine that reduce stress. Spending time outside, gardening, and resting often may help your hormones find their new balance. Mindfulness and meditation can also help reduce and manage menopause-related symptoms.


If you feel like excess weight from menopause is making you self-conscious, you might be curious about cosmetic procedures like liposuction and CoolSculpting.

  • Liposuction can spot-treat belly bulge by removing fat from certain areas. After menopause, it’s possible that the results of liposuction will not last as your body continues to shift some of its mass to your belly. Find a reputable provider to talk about this with if you are seriously considering it.
  • CoolSculpting after menopause may also be effective at reducing the appearance of fat. CoolSculpting is less invasive than liposuction, and there are no incisions or scarring to worry about. On the other hand, as your body continues to change during menopause, the results of CoolSculpting may not be permanent.
  • A tummy tuck is another cosmetic treatment that some people consider after menopause. This treatment requires surgery in the hospital, and there can be a significant recovery process. Make sure that you know your risk factors and your likelihood for permanent results before you book a tummy tuck after menopause.

There are also preventive steps you can take to limit how much menopause affects your body shape. Keep in mind that genetics and your prior health history play a role in how menopause affects your body, so these steps might not completely prevent some menopause belly bulge.

  • Maintain an active lifestyle. If you are able to be active 3 to 4 times per week, consistently elevate your heart rate, and/or participate in strength training, you may find that you experience fewer menopausal symptoms as your estrogen levels decline.
  • Consider quitting smoking. If you smoke and have put off quitting in the past, menopause is a great time to reconsider doing it. As you age, the health effects of smoking continue to increase. If you quit smoking, you may find you have higher energy levels and are more motivated to take care of your body.
  • Talk with a doctor about your specific health concerns. Menopause is typically an indicator that you’re going to need to take care of your body a little differently and that you may have different health concerns going forward. Adjust your mindset to steward your body as well as you can during the years to come.

Menopause is a natural part of aging, and your body may look different once you have reached menopause.

Your genetics play a strong role in how noticeable these changes are, although you do have some control over how much menopause will affect your body shape.

Lifestyle factors, such as your eating patterns, your stress level, and your exercise routine can also play a role.