health weight loss women's health Jan 15, 2024

Understanding Lipoedema: A Common Perimenopause Challenge 

Ever felt like no matter how hard you try, that stubborn fat around your legs, arms or hips just won't budge; even more so now you're over 40? Well, it might not just be about your diet or workout routine.

There's a hidden, often overlooked culprit, especially during perimenopause and menopause: lipoedema. This condition, shrouded in misdiagnosis and misunderstanding, might be the real reason your weight loss efforts are falling flat. So let's take a look at what lipoedema is and how to know if it's part of your weight struggle. 

Understanding Lipoedema: More Than Just Weight Gain

Lipoedema, a condition characterized by an abnormal build-up of fat cells. Unlike standard weight gain, lipoedema fat is symmetrical (appearing on both sides of the body, making it different to lymphoedema), painful, and stubbornly resistant to diet and exercise.

The Hormonal Link: Lipoedema and Perimenopause

Why does lipoedema predominantly affect women over 40? The answer lies in the hormonal rollercoaster of perimenopause and menopause. These stages bring significant hormonal upheavals, which can provide the right conditions (the ‘perfect storm’) for lipedoema to manifest or worsen.

Decoding Lipoedema: Symptoms and Misdiagnoses

Recognizing lipoedema is crucial yet challenging. Symptoms range from disproportionate swelling in the legs and arms to unusual bruising and tenderness.

The most common signs include: 

  • A build up of fat in the legs and arms, typically sparing the feet and hands. The fat can be hard and it becomes fibrotic. So you can feel little lumps under the skin. They can be the size of a grain of rice or up to a bean size, some even bigger, and the actual texture feels different as well.
  • Pain and tenderness in the affected areas.
  • A tendency to bruise easily.
  • Fat nodules beneath the skin.
  • Disproportion between the upper and lower body.

Often mistaken for obesity or lymphoedema, lipoedema requires a discerning eye for accurate diagnosis. (Which is why it can be undiagnosed for years, contributing to disordered eating or even eating disorders, as sufferers restrict their diet and exercise more and more, in an attempt to lose fat mass.) 

Holistic Management: Treating Lipoedema in Peri/Menopause

Managing lipoedema during perimenopause and menopause requires a holistic approach. Here are some key strategies:

  • Choose foods that fight inflammation – they can help with the pain and puffiness. I love Metabolic Balance as a personalised anti-inflammatory diet, that’s why all my clients get one! Adding spices like ginger and turmeric, colourful whole fruits and vegetables, and reducing inflammatory foods like processed foods and crappy seed oils (like canola, rice bran, ‘vegetable oil’) is a great place to start. Check out my freebie ‘Balanced Meal Formula’ if you’d like to understand more about putting your meals together to support your health.
  • Go for gentle exercise like yoga, swimming or walking.
  • Get your Vitamin D levels checked 
  • Research suggests selenium is useful, along with herbs like butcher’s broom. Please work with a qualified naturopath before self-prescribing, as selenium can be toxic in large doses.
  • Make sure your thyroid is functioning well. Don’t just check your TSH levels, make sure you have FT3 and FT4 done. (And of course, compare them to OPTIMAL ranges, not ‘normal.’) 

Most importantly, stay informed about and understand what’s changing with your hormones and body by working closely with healthcare professionals who have an interest in perimenopause, menopause and lipoedema.

Taking Action Against Lipoedema

If you suspect you have lipoedema, especially in perimenopause or menopause, professional evaluation is vital. Early diagnosis and management can significantly improve your quality of life, and help you to navigate the transition to menopause with confidence and feeling amazing.

Your Next Step

Feeling overwhelmed or uncertain about your symptoms? Why not book a free Clarity Call with us? We can explore what's been going on for you, if it's lipoedema, and talk about ways we may be able to help. Remember, you're not alone in this journey, and together, we can find a way forward that moves you towards feeling amazing again.

Is it perimenopause hormone changes or something else making you cranky, exhausted, overwhelmed, and gaining weight in your 40s?


Don't continue to feel stuck and confused - download The Perimenopause Decoder now and gain clarity on your journey to perimenopause!