A Woman’s World: What Health Changes to Expect When You Reach Midlife
What happens when you reach 40? Is 60 the new 40? You likely have these questions in your mind as you look into middle adulthood. It’s that period marked by changes in the body, which can be subtle, gradual, noticeable, lasting, and so on.
While you can’t stop aging, you can do something to cope with the natural way of things and look forward to another chapter of your life.
1. You Undergo Menopause and Related Symptoms
Menopause is a significant phase in a woman’s life. It comes with aging that affects the production of estrogen and progesterone and thus brings about numerous changes.
Women usually undergo menopause between 45 and 55 years old, with 51 as the average age. The natural process lasts years and occurs in three stages over that period:
- Perimenopause marks the months or years leading to menopause and the symptoms accompanying it. For one, your menstrual cycles may become irregular. You may also experience hot flashes, when you feel suddenly warm, especially in the face and neck. You may feel more emotional or irritable due to hormones or night sweats. As menopausal symptoms are most evident during this time, perimenopause is also known as menopause transition.
- Menopause marks the time when your period stops permanently, that is, a whole year or 12 consecutive months since you last menstruated. Your ovaries cease producing and releasing eggs, and natural pregnancy is not possible at this point.
- Postmenopause follows menopause, and some symptoms may have abated during this period. Still, lower estrogen levels hold long-term health implications, such as an increased risk of osteoporosis and heart disease.
Here are some significant changes in your body that may have to do with menopause and aging in general and ways to manage them.
2. Your Reproductive Potential Decreases
As you age, your fertility also declines. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, fertility may likely end five to 10 years before menopause.
Female fertility reaches its peak in one’s 20s and starts its decline in one’s late 20s or early 30s. Thirty-five years old is the conventional cutoff age for pregnancy, as having a baby around or after that time may pose health risks and complications. Still, some women have given birth at 40.
While age has a defined role in your fertility, your lifestyle can significantly contribute to your ability to get pregnant. That means avoiding or quitting smoking, which may reduce the number of eggs you are born with. You may also have to curb alcohol or caffeine intake. Eating healthy foods and exercising help maintain a healthy weight, which can be extra challenging with aging.
For added support to your reproductive health, consider this inositol supplement. Its main uses include providing fertility support and relief from common polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) symptoms, promoting hormonal balance, and improving mood.
3. Your Vision Changes
You see things differently over time, figuratively and literally. According to the American Optometric Association, adults between 41 and 60 years old may experience eyesight-related issues, as follows:
- You need brighter light to see or read clearly.
- You find it difficult to focus on closer objects.
- You become more sensitive to light or glare.
- You perceive colors differently.
- Your eyes feel drier as fewer tears are produced. Hormonal changes also play a part in dryness.
Regular checkups can help you detect and mitigate eye conditions before they get worse. It also helps to practice healthy habits to protect your eyesight. One of which is not smoking, which is a risk factor for age-related macular degeneration, or ARMD.
4. You Age Physically
Aging alters your physical appearance naturally. These physical signs include:
- Your hair thins out or falls out. Estrogen and progesterone help hair grow faster and stay longer. Hormonal imbalance during menopause can result in slow hair growth, thinning hair, or hair loss. On the other hand, hair can grow in unwanted places. Aside from using gentle products for your scalp and hair, try to reduce stress, eat omega-3-rich foods, and keep yourself hydrated. For unwanted facial hair, the solutions range from tweezing to laser treatment.
- Your skin sags and gets wrinkled, among other signs. Your skin loses its elasticity as you age. It also becomes drier, flaky, or thinner that you bruise easily. What you can do: moisturize, use sunscreen to prevent dark spots, shower and cleanse your face with warm water.
- Your body shape also changes. Body fat, for example, goes up steadily after 30. For women, this body fat can be more concentrated in the abdomen. Excessive belly fat is linked with higher heart disease risk. Losing weight is extra challenging as you age, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle is always helpful.
It’s Just the Beginning
Your life will take a different turn at midlife, and your experience may vary from everyone else. Expect the unexpected, and prepare yourself for the rollercoaster ride.