Your 40s is an important decade for preventing health problems later in life such as diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancer, which is why this is the best time to start thinking about age management, getting screened for diseases that you may have a high risk for, and in general, making healthy life choices.
This is also the best time to rethink or give more focus on major health concerns that have been plaguing you for the last four decades. If you don’t know where to begin, try these suggestions.
Check your birth control
It’s true that you could start peri-menopausing in your 40s (that period of time before your menstruation is gone for good), but you could also still get pregnant. If you have been on the pills all these years, your 40s is the best time to consider the alternatives. This is because, as you age, some birth control pills may increase your risk for blood clots and heart disease.
Get a grip on menopause
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance start showing in your late 40s or early 50s because this is also the time that you are entering menopause. To be prepared for it physically and mentally, get as much education as you can about this stage in life that you will have to eventually face, and talk to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy to ease menopause symptoms such as mood changes, hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
Hormone therapy is not for everyone, especially those who have elevated risks for heart disease, breast cancer, strokes and blood clots. But if you have low risk for these diseases and your symptoms range from moderate to severe – vaginal dryness causing low libido, inadequate sleep due to hot flashes at night, irritability for no apparent reason – talk to a hormone therapist for treatment options.
Adjust your calcium intake
You start losing muscle and bone mass in your 40s, so you have to start preventing the inevitable decline in your bone density at this stage. Menopause further weakens your bones and puts you at high risk for osteoporosis (brittle bones), so you’ll have to start making deposits to your bone bank well before menopause hits. If you can’t process dairy or don’t get enough of it, talk to your doctor about taking a supplement with calcium and vitamin D, which unlocks the calcium in your body.
Address issues on low libido
As women age, their libido usually takes a nosedive. While hormones are typically the ones to blame, other non-hormonal factors could in fact contribute to a woman’s less, or loss of, interest in sex. Problems at work and in home life usually get in the way of a sexy date night, and this interruption can erode even the most intimate relationships.
Physical factors such as vaginal laxity are also libido killers. As a woman ages, her collagen and elastin stores diminish, and this manifests not just as wrinkles in the face and neck, but also loss of elasticity and firmness in her reproductive parts, especially after several childbirths.
Unlike other life and health issues, a woman’s loss of interest in sex due to vaginal laxity is often not as openly discussed, and so many women go about dealing with their sexual problems in silence. With plenty of safe, non-invasive vaginal tightening treatment available nowadays, it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.
Vaginal tightening can increase sex drive by making women feel more youthful again in the areas that matter most. This can be achieved through laser vaginal rejuvenation such as Viveve that utilizes safe radiofrequency energy to stimulate the natural collagen formation process in the cells of the vaginal introitus (opening), restoring firmness, elasticity and sensitivity to sexual stimulation.
Get started on screening tests
Your 40s is the ideal time to get regular mammograms and pap test to nip breast and cervical cancer cells in the bud. As of 2002, which is the most recent statistics available, the survival rate for stage 1 cervical cancer is 93% (which means 93 out of 100 women live 5 years or longer after their cancer has been diagnosed), according to the US National Cancer Data Base.
Your 50s is also a good time to get a colonoscopy. In the United States, people age 50 and older are getting colorectal cancer 15 times more than younger people age 20-49. In the UK, incidence rates for bowel cancer increase sharply from age 50-54.
If you haven’t been fond of natural foods all these years, your 40s is the best time to rethink your diet and include more greens. This is because roughage in your diet (which comes from insoluble fiber) cleans up your bowels and adds bulk to your digestive system, shortening the amount of time toxins spend in your digestive tract.