Health issues related to women in the 40s+
By Temitope Ojo
Growing older is a fact of life, and how we age can largely be controlled by the decisions we make day-to-day, primarily, as a woman.
As you turn 40 or more, many women are more likely to be “settled” in life, work and family.
However, you shouldn’t be “settled” when it comes to your health at this milestone. It is because a woman’s body undergoes some transitions during her 40s. With the body metabolism slowing down and onset of decline in estrogen, it also brings some particular health challenges.
Midlife is the time to begin to listen to your bodies and avoid the things we know to be bad for us. It is also a critical time to repair earlier lifestyle mistakes and keep oneself in the best of health.
Here are six common health fixes at midlife, and beyond.
Take care of your eyes
As you take care of the rest of the body, your eyes and vision also need to be cared for, too. If you haven’t had a comprehensive baseline eye exam in a while, get one now, to avoid future problems.
Get your doctor to look for issues like glaucoma, which presents early with visual field loss and later with central vision loss. Though cataracts generally present much later in life, some individuals may have issues earlier.
“Dry eye” can be an issue for women in their 40s, perhaps due to shifting hormones or staring at a computer screen all day. The doctor can help with the itchiness and redness with prescription eye drops or other recommendations.
You may have had a perfect vision all your life. However, you may need to get reading glasses as you clock 40 due to presbyopia, a normal age-related change that makes it tough to focus on nearby objects. If you don’t fancy its use, there are other options.
You’ll have ‘the change.’
For most women, periods are regular until their mid-40s. But then menopause may begin and change that. Habits such as a high-fat diet and smoking can hasten menopause as well as a family history of early menopause or significant health problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Your ovaries will start producing less estrogen and progesterone, two types of hormones because of estrogen levels, decline causing night sweats, hot flashes and vaginal dryness sets. As progesterone levels fall, your periods may be irregular, more substantial and more prolonged.
Don’t ignore your heart
Heart disease is the number one killer of women, and the risk rises as women age. Menopause doesn’t cause cardiovascular disease. Instead, it’s those bad habits earlier in life, such as smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise that can begin to take a toll on heart health.
Cut out empty calories
One of the most significant changes women experience in their 40s is how the body uses and processes calories. Slowing down of the metabolism is a reality, and so, there’s need to cut out empty calories, because they add up quickly, and don’t leave you feeling full. Avoid wasting your nutrient needs on empty calories items like chips, soft drinks.
Get breast mammography screening done
Some doctors now recommend yearly mammograms starting at age 40. It is because breast cancer screenings can be confusing, which leads many women in their forties to ignore breast health. Remember, the best way you can treat and cure breast cancer is by finding it earlier. Screening mammography reduces the number of deaths from breast cancer among women.
Talk to your doctor. He or she can help guide your decision based on individual risk factors. Also, get to know your breasts with self-exams. Self-exams keep you familiar with how your breasts feel so you can notice any changes and then talk to your doctor about those changes.
Sleep is important
Midlife can be one of the most stressful phases of life, no matter if you’re single, married, have young kids or not. Demanding families and demanding jobs often take a toll on sleep, but if you want to be healthy and alert, don’t be sparing with bedtime. Lack of sleep can cause problems.
To help improve sleep, stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake around the same time every day, even on weekends. Getting a plan helps regulate the body clock. Experts also recommend keeping your bedroom dark, noise-free and cool. If you continue to have trouble staying asleep or falling asleep, see your doctor.
It is essential to focus on getting quality sleep, as it has a long-term impact on our physical and mental health, as well as our weight and disorders associated with cardiac function and diabetes.
While we can’t slow the ageing process, if we develop the right attitude, we can feel younger and more energetic. Now is the time to start caring for yourself. Remember, midlife is not the beginning of the end, but at the end of the opening.