A fall in estradiol, an estrogen hormone, may lead to weight gain or difficulty losing weight. Estradiol levels decrease around menopause. Other factors can also affect estrogen levels.

Estrogen is one of the two primary female sex hormones. It has a role in the onset of puberty and the menstrual cycle.

The ovaries, which are two small glands in the lower pelvis, are mainly responsible for the production of estrogen. The adrenal glands and fatty tissue also make estrogen in small amounts. There are three main types of estrogen:

  • estrone, or E1, which the body produces after menopause
  • estradiol or E2, which females of childbearing age produce
  • estriol or E3, which the body produces during pregnancy

Some forms of estrogen have links with how the body controls weight gain. As such, any changes in their levels could then lead to changes in body weight.

Read on to learn more about the possible relationship between estrogen levels and weight gain. This article discusses menopause, other causes of estrogen imbalance, symptoms of low estrogen levels, and what to do about estrogen-related weight gain.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

Was this helpful?
Closeup of a person's hands on a green pillow.Share on Pinterest
Maria Korneeva/Getty Images

Weight gain is a common side effect of menopause, affecting at least 50% of people during menopause and perimenopause. Research suggests that a person gains an average of 1.5 kilograms (kg) during perimenopause, with a total weight gain of around 10 kg by menopause.

One reason why people might gain weight around menopause is changing hormone levels. One form of estrogen, called estradiol, decreases at menopause. This hormone helps regulate metabolism and body weight, so lower levels may lead to weight gain.

After menopause, a person tends to gain weight around their midsection and abdomen. This type of fat is known as visceral fat.

According to a 2019 article, estrogen also helps control hunger signals, which may help prevent excess calorie consumption. When estrogen levels reduce, this can cause changes in a person’s ability to recognize hunger, which may result in overeating.

In addition to changing estrogen levels, a person may have reduced physical activity and less muscle mass, meaning they burn fewer calories during the day. These age-related factors may play a more significant role in weight gain than changes in estrogen levels.

Learn about the symptoms of menopause.

Menopause is not the only reason why a person might have low estrogen levels.


Estrogen levels remain low after a person has given birth and while breastfeeding or nursing. This hormonal change helps encourage milk production and prevent ovulation and any further conception right away.

Ovary removal

A person who has had both of their ovaries surgically removed will go through sudden menopause. They will no longer produce the same amount of estrogen.

Learn more about surgical menopause.

Turner syndrome

Turner syndrome is a genetic condition that affects females. A female with Turner syndrome only has one X chromosome.

A person with the condition will usually begin estrogen replacement therapy around the time of puberty. This can help increase estrogen levels, which may help reduce weight gain.

According to a 2016 study, late puberty induction may also help decrease the risk of weight gain with Turner syndrome.

Symptoms of low estrogen include:

It is best to contact a doctor if a person suspects they have low estrogen levels. The doctor may order a blood test to measure estrogen levels and determine if there is an estrogen imbalance.

A person can also keep track of their menstrual periods, including when they begin and end and any other symptoms or issues they are experiencing. Having this information available can help a doctor diagnose potential hormonal imbalances.

If a person gains weight due to low estrogen, then managing the underlying cause may help with managing weight gain. A person’s doctor can advise on a suitable treatment plan according to the cause.

The doctor can also advise on other ways to reach and maintain a moderate weight. Some general tips include:

  • choosing fresh foods over processed options
  • including whole grains and lean proteins along with plant-based fats
  • staying hydrated by drinking lots of water
  • avoiding soda, juice, and alcohol
  • getting enough regular physical activity or exercise

Being active is also very important for managing estrogen-related weight gain. In addition to regular cardio exercise, such as jogging, swimming, or walking, people can use strength training to help build muscle and promote healthy bones.

Discover more weight loss tips.

Here are some answers to common questions about estrogen levels and weight gain.

How do I stop estrogen weight gain?

Treating an underlying condition may help restore estrogen levels. This might involve estrogen therapy. A person can also follow general tips for maintaining a moderate weight, such as consuming a diet rich in fresh foods and getting enough physical activity.

Will adding estrogen help me lose weight?

As low estrogen levels can contribute to weight gain, estrogen therapy may help a person lose weight. A doctor may recommend estrogen if the weight gain is due to an estrogen imbalance. However, estrogen is not specifically a remedy for weight management.

Does estrogen cause belly fat?

Reduced estrogen levels are typical during menopause. During this time, a person may experience weight gain around the midsection.

Low estrogen levels can cause weight gain or make it difficult to maintain a moderate weight. This most commonly happens during menopause and perimenopause, as estrogen levels decrease at this time.

Other possible causes include ovary removal, lactation, and Turner syndrome. In some cases, treating the underlying cause may help restore estrogen levels.

A doctor can recommend specific treatments that may help according to the individual’s circumstances. They can also advise on general tips for reaching and maintaining a moderate weight, such as consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, staying hydrated, and getting enough regular physical activity.