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 women who tend to be the primary caregivers in their household need to remember to keep themselves healthy as well.
If this sounds like you, don’t forget to prioritize self-care to ensure you are the healthiest you.
Snapshot of a woman in her 40s
In your 40s, you may be:
- Experiencing life changes, such as divorce and evolving parenting 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
Basic health habits are most important
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. Most providers recommend women take a minimum of 800 IU daily of Vitamin D to help support their 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, women can experience various issues, such as:
- Hot flashes or night sweats
- Decreased libido and vaginal dryness
- Menstrual or bleeding changes with either periods 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 provider 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
If your child is graduating from school or you’ve seen your parent declining in health, it doesn’t mean your self-care should take a back seat.
This decade it’s important to remember:
- Keep yearly exams with a healthcare provider
- 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)
- A yearly breast exam and mammogram
- Know your numbers related to heart health, such as blood pressure and cholesterol
- Regular colorectal cancer screening, beginning at age 45
- Keep moving with regular exercise
- 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.