Published: February 21, 2024
By: Kimberly Newton-Klootwyk

As you approach or navigate through menopause, you might find yourself grappling with unexpected weight gain.

On the surface, it may seem as though nothing has changed. You do your best to eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise — maybe you’ve even increased your efforts — but the scale keeps inching upwards or stubborn pounds refuse to budge.

You may feel disheartened by the seeming lack of control over your body, but know that you are not alone in this perplexing and frustrating experience. Many women face similar challenges during this phase of life and solutions are available, among the most exciting of which is the medical weight loss drug, semaglutide. 

What Is Semaglutide?

Semaglutide originated as a medication for managing blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes. However, researchers soon observed an interesting side effect — significant weight loss in patients using the medication. This discovery led to further studies and clinical trials to understand its potential as a weight management drug.

Today, there are three FDA-approved medications containing semaglutide as the active ingredient: Ozempic® injections and Rybelsus® tablets for type 2 diabetes and Wegovy® injections for weight management.

How Does Semaglutide for Weight Loss Work?

Semaglutide is part of a drug class known as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists. These medications mimic natural GLP-1 hormones that regulate hunger, appetite and ultimately food intake.

GLP-1 is produced in the small intestine and released after eating. Its primary functions include stimulating insulin production and inhibiting glucagon secretion, both of which help lower blood sugar levels. GLP-1 also helps slow down the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine (a process called “gastric emptying”). This creates longer-lasting feelings of fullness and satiety.

Breaking it down, the effects of semaglutide for weight loss include:

  • Delayed gastric emptying
  • Better control of cravings
  • Appetite suppression
  • Increased insulin release 
  • Improved glycemic control

What Causes Weight Gain During Menopause?

Hormones

The most significant factor in menopausal weight gain is the fluctuation and eventual decrease in estrogen levels. Estrogen influences how the body distributes fat; as its levels drop, women often experience a shift in fat storage from the hips and thighs to the stomach (sometimes called “menopause belly”). Hormonal fluctuations may result in insulin resistance.

Aging

The aging process triggers additional changes in the body. Our metabolism slows down and we burn fewer calories at rest, making it more challenging to maintain the same weight. We also experience a gradual loss of muscle mass. Because muscle burns more calories than fat, this loss further compounds the difficulty of losing weight during menopause.

Lifestyle

Menopause often coincides with lifestyle changes. Factors like increased stress, poorer sleep quality and reduced physical activity can contribute to difficulty losing weight. Some women experience changes in their eating habits, such as increased cravings or emotional eating, which can lead to additional weight gain.

What Do Studies Have to Say About the Efficacy of Semaglutide for Weight Loss?

Clinical studies have provided significant insights into the effectiveness of semaglutide for weight loss, particularly for individuals with obesity or overweight issues.

In one of the key studies known as the STEP 5 trial, participants treated with semaglutide experienced a mean weight reduction of 15.2% over a two-year period, compared to a 2.6% reduction in the placebo group. Semaglutide-treated participants, compared with placebo, were more likely to lose at least 10%, 15% and even 20% of their baseline body weight in the same period.

The study also observed additional health benefits associated with semaglutide use, such as reductions in waist circumference and systolic blood pressure, and improvements in various metabolic parameters like blood glucose and cholesterol levels. These findings suggest that semaglutide’s impact may extend beyond weight loss.

So, Can Semaglutide Help With Weight Loss During Menopause?

The answer is a resounding “yes!” Semaglutide can be a valuable tool for weight loss, even in the complex hormonal landscape of menopause.

Semaglutide functions best as part of a comprehensive weight loss strategy. While it can significantly aid in reducing appetite and caloric intake, weight loss medication is most impactful when combined with lifestyle modifications. A balanced diet, regular physical activity and other healthy habits not only enhance the effects of semaglutide and help you keep the weight off long-term, but also contribute to your overall well-being and longevity.

Who Can Use Semaglutide?

Semaglutide can help a variety of people achieve and maintain their goal weight, including menopausal women looking to kickstart the weight loss process.

The decision to use a weight loss medication should be guided by a healthcare professional. A physician can assess your individual health needs, consider any potential side effects and determine whether semaglutide is a suitable option for you. They can also provide advice on integrating this treatment into a broader weight management plan tailored to your unique circumstances.

Who Should Not Use Semaglutide?

There are certain groups of people for whom this medication may not be suitable or safe, including:

  • Individuals with a personal or family history of certain cancers
  • Individuals with a history of gastrointestinal disorders
  • Individuals with a history of pancreatitis
  • Individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding 

Are There Any Additional Considerations for Menopausal Women?

If you are in or near menopause and interested in using semaglutide for weight loss, there are several additional factors to consider:

Bone and Muscle Health

As people age, we naturally lose muscle mass and bone density. Significant and rapid weight loss, which can occur with semaglutide and other GLP-1 agonists, may exacerbate this natural decline. Therefore, it’s essential to take active steps to maintain your muscle mass while using these medications.

Long-Term Use of Semaglutide

For many individuals, semaglutide requires long-term use. You should be prepared for the possibility of needing to continue the medication after menopause to sustain its benefits. However, not every woman in menopause will need to use the medication indefinitely. Some may find that once menopause-related symptoms like insomnia and mood changes resolve, they can maintain their weight loss without ongoing treatment.

Medical Weight Loss Treatment at Balanced Medical Solutions

Before beginning your weight loss journey at Balanced Medical Solutions, you will have a consultation and exam with our medical team. This initial assessment allows us to run tests that help us understand the underlying causes of your weight gain and difficulty losing weight. We will also get to know your medical history and personal goals.

Based on this information, our medical team will tailor a weight loss treatment plan unique to your circumstances. If semaglutide is a good fit for you, it will be administered as a once-weekly injection that you can self-administer at home or have done by a provider at Balanced Medical Solutions.

We will monitor your progress with free follow-up visits and adjust your treatment plan as necessary.

Embark on a New Health Chapter With Semaglutide

Don’t let menopause dictate your health story. Start a new chapter with the help of semaglutide and the compassionate care of Balanced Medical Solutions. We offer comprehensive treatment plans that combine medication with lifestyle guidance and ongoing professional support to assist you through this natural phase of life.

If you are interested in using semaglutide for menopause weight gain, call 510-679-3300 today to schedule a consultation or request an appointment through our online booking platform. We proudly serve patients in Hayward and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

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