The role of hormones in weight gain: understanding PCOS and menopause

Hormones play a crucial role in weight gain, influencing how our bodies store and use energy. Two significant conditions where hormonal changes can impact weight are Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and menopause.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. It disrupts the balance of sex hormones, including insulin and androgens. Insulin resistance, a common feature of PCOS, leads to increased insulin levels. Elevated insulin can cause the body to store more fat, particularly around the abdomen. Moreover, imbalances in androgens can contribute to weight gain, making it challenging for people with PCOS to maintain a healthy weight.


Menopause marks the end of a woman's reproductive years and brings significant hormonal changes, including a decline in estrogen levels. The reduction in estrogen can lead to weight gain, especially around the abdomen. Estrogen helps regulate body weight by influencing where fat is stored and how it is used for energy. The decline in estrogen during menopause may disrupt this balance, contributing to increased fat accumulation.

Other hormonal links to weight gain


Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, plays a key role in regulating blood sugar levels. When cells become resistant to insulin, as seen in conditions like PCOS, the body compensates by producing more insulin. High insulin levels can stimulate the storage of fat, leading to weight gain. Managing insulin resistance through lifestyle changes, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, is crucial in controlling weight in conditions like PCOS.


Cortisol, the hormone released in response to stress, can also influence weight gain. Chronic stress can lead to elevated cortisol levels, promoting the storage of fat, especially around the abdominal area. Stress management techniques, such as mindfulness and relaxation exercises, may help mitigate the impact of cortisol on weight.

Thyroid hormones

Thyroid hormones, crucial for regulating metabolism, can impact weight. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can slow down metabolism, leading to weight gain. Conversely, an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can result in rapid weight loss. Proper diagnosis and management of thyroid disorders are essential for maintaining a healthy weight.

In summary, hormonal imbalances can significantly influence weight gain — that’s why understanding the role of hormones is crucial in managing and preventing weight gain. 

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