Women’s wellness: How to be your best self in your 40s
Your 40s may be the new 20s. Today’s woman in her 40s is in her prime, busily balancing the demands of life with a sense of purpose. But many women, especially those who are the primary caregivers in their household, need to remember to keep themselves healthy as well. Always busy focusing on everyone else, it’s easy to let your own well-being fall by the wayside.
If this sounds like you, don’t forget to prioritize self-care to ensure you are the healthiest you.
In your 40s, you may be:
- Experiencing life changes, like evolving parenting and family roles
- Coping with stress or depression
- Juggling the demands of work and family
- Struggling with weight gain as your metabolism slows
- Looking to learn more about menopause
- Preparing for hormone changes
With all this change going on, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself—body, mind and soul. Here’s how.
Eat well and move your body
The powerful one-two combo of nutrition and exercise is essential to your general well-being in your 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond. No matter how often we hear it, it can still be challenging to put into practice.
Diet and exercise may play an even more important role in your 40s as women tend to gain weight each decade of life. If you can make healthy changes in your 40s, they’ll serve you well for the next few decades of life.
Keep an eye on your bone health
An essential part of your diet in your 40s is getting enough Vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for bone health. Women get their peak bone mineral density in their late 20s and early 30s. We need to keep our bones strong before menopause occurs.
Recently, providers have realized that many women are Vitamin D deficient. Ask your doctor if taking Vitamin D could help support your bone health. If you smoke, consider quitting, as tobacco users tend to have a higher risk of osteoporosis and go through menopause earlier.
Always talk to your doctor or registered dietitian about what diet changes or supplements are right for you.
Get ready for menopause
As a woman gears up for menopause, it can feel like stepping into the unknown. It is not abnormal to transition into menopause in the 40s, although the average age is 51. Remember, menopause does not happen overnight.
During the perimenopausal phase, you can experience various symptoms, such as:
- Hot flashes or night sweats
- Decreased libido
- Vaginal dryness
- Menstrual cycle changes (periods either closer together or further apart)
If you’re experiencing bleeding for more than 10 days or have more than three months between cycles, see your doctor to rule out precancerous cells.
The goal is to help women get through this perimenopausal transition without increasing their risk of other health concerns.
If you are exercising and maintaining a healthy body weight, that will help with the transition, but other options like hormone replacement therapy will help as well. Talk to your doctor about what options are suitable for you.
Stay on top of screenings
This decade, it’s especially important to remember the following:
- Keep yearly exams with your OBGYN.
- The 40s is a common time to develop cervical cancer, so routine screening is important, which includes a pap smear (every three years) or pap smear with HPV testing (every five years).
- Schedule a yearly breast exam and mammogram starting at age 40.
- Know your numbers related to heart health, such as blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Stay on top of colorectal cancer screening.
- Keep moving with regular exercise and nourish your body with healthy foods.
- See your doctor if there are signs of stressors in life that are causing anxiety or depression.
If you are experiencing uncomfortable or worrying symptoms, talk to your OBGYN. Don’t have an OBGYN you can trust? Find one today.
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