Weight gain in the perimenopausal years is a well-documented symptom. The frustrating thing is that the weight doesn't distribute itself evenly: It settles right on your belly [source: Stoll]. Carrying extra pounds on the waistline is linked to insulin resistance, which leads to a greater chance of heart disease [source: Camillo].
As you get older, it's easier to gain weight and harder to get rid of it. Part of that is because our activity decreases. Whether you're on your feet or at a desk all day, it's hard to get excited about jumping around after work. But the simple truth is that in midlife and beyond, you have to stay active to win the battle of the bulge.
Your abdomen may not be the only part of your body feeling a little swollen. Go on to the next page for a clue.