BY SARA SHULMAN | JUL 24, 2021
"With stars like Debra Messing and Halle Berry looking decades younger than their actual age, 40 is definitely the new 30! Woman are no longer dreading reaching middle age and are feeling healthier than ever, thanks to the latest fitness and wellness trends. But aging comes with a lot of changes, too. It's usually around 40 when some women start to form deeper fine lines and wrinkles. The big 4-0 also signals the importance of doing health screenings regularly. For example, at age 40, women should have their first mammogram.
“Women must always remain proactive about their health at every age,” says Taz Bhatia, MD, a board-certified integrative medicine physician, women’s health expert and author of The Super Women RX. The good news is there are ways to anticipate where your health is headed as you age through preventative screenings and an active lifestyle. Remember, age is just a number so keep it that way!
Losing weight in your 20s was as easy as cutting out soda for a week, but as women age, it gets harder to lose weight and easier to gain it. “Age, inactivity, stress levels, and poor dietary choices are the biggest precluding factors to weight gain,” says Kecia Gaither, MD, a New York City-based OB/GYN and director of perinatal services at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx. “Staying active is key,” she explains.
Fatigue and low energy
Feeling tired may not seem like something new to a woman in her 40s. After all, you’re probably working full-time, raising children, and managing a home, but as women age, they tend to get more tired, quicker. This is due mainly to hormonal changes happening from menopause. “Consistent sleep is a key factor in rejuvenating and replenishing the body,” Dr. Bhatia says. Dr. Bhatia recommends seven hours of consistent sleep for five nights a week.
“This is the most common cause of death in American women,” Dr. Gaither says. Over time, plaque builds up in the arteries, causing them to narrow and harden. "This prevents the normal flow of blood and oxygen that the heart needs. A clot may develop over the plaque, blocking the flow to the heart leading to a heart attack.” This is just another reason diet and exercise are so important.
There are numerous reasons women in their 40s experience a low sex drive. Everything from hormonal changes to vaginal dryness could be the cause. Sometimes the solution can be as simple as using an estrogen cream, but in other cases, it may mean something more serious. Always talk to your doctor no matter how serious or not you think the issue is.
“Breast and cervical cancer are the two most common cancers affecting women,” Dr. Gaither says. Breast cancer can occur at any age, but the risk increases with age. "Cervical cancer can affect any woman who is or has been sexually active, but it primarily occurs in women who have had HPV, are immune compromised, have poor nutrition, and don’t get pap smears,” she adds. Routine mammograms are key once you hit 40.
As if fatigue and low energy weren’t issue enough, insomnia plagues many middle-aged women as well. In fact, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that close to 20 percent of women age 40 to 59 said they had trouble falling asleep on four or more nights a week. The study explains that for many this is due to the onset of menopause. Night sweats, skyrocketing body temperatures, and mood swings can all affect sleep patterns.
Although hair loss for both men and women is mainly hereditary, hormones during menopause can play a roll as well. But there are supplements and treatments you can take in order to help prevent hair loss, so if you’re worried, ask your doctor."