Welcome to your 30s. While you may have been dreading leaving your 20s behind, turning 30 is a great time to lay the foundation for a lifetime of good health.
In your 30s, you may be:
- Concerned about showing the first subtle signs of aging
- Achieving more stability in your personal life or career
- Thinking about having your first child or expanding your family
- Struggling to balance children, school, work or other stressors
- Suffering from sleep disorders or other unhealthy habits
- Unaware of the health risks or need for gynecological care
Regardless of how you’re feeling about being in your 30s, here’s how to make the most of this decade, with expert tips from Lauren Smith, MD, an OBGYN on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple.
Get familiar with fertility
In your 30s, Dr. Smith recommends evaluating your fertility or ability to achieve pregnancy if you haven’t yet.
“Fertility declines gradually at age 32 and decreases more rapidly after age 37,” Dr. Smith said.
By age 30, your fertility starts to decline. For healthy couples in their 20s and early 30s, around 1 in 4 women will get pregnant in any single menstrual cycle. By age 40, about 1 in 10 women will get pregnant per menstrual cycle. A man’s fertility also declines with age, but not as predictably.
If you are in your 30s and struggling to conceive, we know it can be an emotionally challenging time. Your OBGYN can help guide your journey and talk through your fertility options.
“Evaluation of infertility is recommended after a year of unprotected intercourse for women 34 years old and younger and after six months for women 35 years old and older,” Dr. Smith said.
Be open about menstrual problems or sexual concerns
As a woman in your 30s, you may also experience a hormonal shift that can cause changes to your menstrual cycle. You may have heavy bleeding or urinary incontinence, especially if you’ve had children.
These changes may not sound too great, but don’t despair. If you’ve established a trusting relationship with your doctor, there are ways we can help find the right treatment options to ease any uncomfortable symptoms. Your doctor can also help you adjust to the natural changes your body is experiencing.
If you are facing any sexual problems physically or emotionally, it is essential to talk about these with your OBGYN. Contraception, genetic counseling, intimacy concerns or infertility can all be discussed in an open and safe environment.
Get the right screenings regularly
At each visit—remember, you should see your OBGYN every year, even after you’re done having children—you may be screened for STDs and cervical cancer through a pap smear. During these visits, you can discuss your gynecological status and any questions you have about your cancer risk.
In addition to gynecological screenings, Dr. Smith recommends a breast exam every one to three years, especially for those at high risk for breast cancer. Younger women generally do not consider themselves to be at risk for breast cancer, but breast cancer can strike at any age. 5% of breast cancer cases occur in women under 40 years of age.
That said, routine mammograms are not recommended in the 30s because the signs are more difficult to find in pre-menopausal women due to the density of the breast tissue. Once you hit 40, mammograms will be an important part of your wellness routine.
If you are at high risk, the American Cancer Society recommends screening with MRI and mammograms from age 30 on as long as you are in good health and taking into account discussions with your doctor, and your personal circumstances and preferences.
Establish a relationship with your doctor
Up until this stage of life, you may feel busy enough worrying about your child’s doctor appointments or your husband’s. However, if you’ve delayed getting your own primary care doctor or OBGYN, this is a good time to establish care.
At your visit, your doctor can discuss your family history with you. Dr. Smith said this evaluation could help you see if you’re at risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes or other conditions. Your 30s are the time to start making positive changes that can help keep you well for many years to come.
Don’t neglect weight, nutrition or exercise
It can be challenging to maintain a healthy weight at every stage of life as a woman, especially as hormones change. Instead of feeling guilty or overwhelmed, use your 30s as a time to make positive changes.
Dr. Smith recommends calculating your healthy weight in relation to your height, called your body mass index, or BMI. You can use this website to calculate your BMI. But keep in mind, BMI is not the only indicator of your health.
In addition to a healthy weight, the following nutrients are especially important for you as a woman:
- Vitamin D
- Folic acid
Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian if you’re concerned about your weight or looking for nutrition advice. Exercise is also a major part of the equation to help decrease the risk of chronic disease. For ultimate health benefits, exercise at least 30 minutes a day, Dr. Smith said.
Your 30s are busy, which makes your well-being even more important. Consider these recommendations as a way to keep you happy and healthy. Following the guidelines for proper screenings, checkups, family planning and wellness can bring new meaning throughout your 30s and in the years to come.