Obesity in perimenopause — current treatment options based on pathogenetic factors


Dominik Porada, Jakub Gołacki, Beata Matyjaszek-Matuszek

The health of post-menopausal women has become of paramount concern due to the aging of the world’s population. Concurrently, the prevalence of obesity among postmenopausal women is expected to increase, presenting a significant public health challenge. Although weight gain during menopause is a well-observed phenomenon, its underlying causes and mechanisms remain incompletely understood. This manuscript reviews the literature to explore potential hormonal factors and pathomechanisms contributing to obesity during perimenopause, aiming to identify pathogenic factors that can guide treatment selection. Menopause-induced hormonal changes, including hypoestrogenaemia, hypergonadotropinaemia, relative hyperandrogenaemia, growth hormone deficiency, leptin resistance, and chronic stress affecting the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, have been implicated in the onset of obesity in perimenopausal women. These hormonal fluctuations, alongside lowered daily energy expenditure, lead to metabolic alterations that elevate the risk of developing metabolic disorders and cardiovascular diseases. Weight gain in perimenopausal women is associated with higher total and abdominal adipose tissue and lower lean body mass. Addressing this issue requires individualized behavioural management, supported by effective pharmacological therapy, and, when warranted, complemented by bariatric surgery. Modern obesity treatment therapies have demonstrated safety and efficacy in clinical trials, offering the potential to reduce excess body fat, improve metabolic profiles, lower cardiovascular risk, and enhance the quality and longevity of women’s lives. In addition to standard obesity therapies, the article examines different treatment strategies based on obesity’s pathogenic factors, which may offer promising options for treating obesity with or without complications in perimenopausal women. One such potential approach is menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), which hypothetically targets visceral obesity by reducing visceral adipose tissue accumulation, preserving metabolically active lean body mass, and improving lipid profiles. However, despite these reported benefits, gynaecological and endocrinological societies currently do not recommend the use of MHT for obesity prevention or treatment, necessitating further research for validation. Emerging evidence suggests that visceral obesity could result from hypoestrogenaemia during perimenopause, potentially justifying the use of MHT as a causal treatment. This highlights the importance of advancing research efforts to unravel the intricate hormonal and metabolic changes that occur during perimenopause
and their role in obesity development.

menopause; perimenopause; obesity; pharmacotherapy; menopausal hormone therapy

Full publication in Endokrynologia Polska »