As you get older, you may start to notice a few aches in your joints. Getting out of bed is suddenly a lengthier process than it was a decade ago.
You may also find yourself reaching for caffeine more frequently because your energy is waning more frequently.
So This is Forty
Many women experience physical and emotional changes around the time they reach the age of 40. The hormonal fluctuations the female body starts to experience at this milestone can cause unpleasant and uncomfortable changes.
Women experience unintentional weight gain without any significant changes to diet and exercise. Sometimes, women find that their clothes don’t fit quite the same as they once did without changes to their weight. It is normal to experience times where you become irritable, tired, and even short-tempered.
After all, your quality of sleep and menstruation undergo changes as well. Sleeplessness is common, and women often find temperature regulation more challenging at night as they try to sleep. So, what’s going on?
The explanation for all these changes may be simpler than you think. At forty, women find that they don’t feel old, but they don’t quite feel young anymore. One reason is that some women begin to go through what’s known as perimenopause.
Perimenopause can start an average of eight years before women enter the menopausal phase. Women often experience symptoms unknowingly. Although the changes you may be experiencing can be unsettling, it is nice to know that these are normal parts of the transition phase you are entering, and other women are experiencing all or at least some of the same symptoms.
What to Expect?
If you think you’re experiencing changes physically and emotionally that you believe might be related to the perimenopausal phase, it’s important to discuss them with your doctor.
Here are some of the symptoms you can expect with perimenopausal:
- Changes in menstruation
- Vaginal dryness
- Sleep disturbances
- Libido changes
- Weight gain
- Weight redistribution
- Hair loss
- Unwanted hair growth
- Water retention and bloating
- Heart palpitations
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Dry skin
- Urinary dysfunction
Some of the emotional symptoms of perimenopause include:
- Fuzzy brain
- Short-term memory loss
- Mood swings
- Concentration difficulties
- Disorientation when trying to perform multiple tasks
- Sense of urgency
During perimenopause, it is possible to experience all of these symptoms, some of these symptoms, or none at all.
Common symptoms occur because of hormonal fluctuations in the levels of the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone. These fluctuations can lead to imbalances, and the female body will react accordingly to this distressing state of transition.
While hormonal imbalances play their part at forty, many women find that this is also just a busy time in their lives. There are all kinds of stress that can pile up at this time.
Everyone’s life has its own unique stressors. Some women may find that, like mothers, they’re worrying more about their children because of their age.
There is the potential for financial stress. Whether women are concerned with paying for college if they have children or saving up for their future retirement, money can weigh heavier on their minds than it has at other ages and for different reasons.
Women in their 40s may start to realize the aging of their parents, and caring for aging parents can bring its own share of concern and worry. This also draws attention to planning for the future as well for themselves.
Like other transitional phases in life, especially ones driven by hormonal changes, women may feel compelled to make changes to how they dress, speak up more frequently with honest opinions, focus more on self-care and self-reflection, and even embrace a new hobby.
Along with feeling the need to make changes personally, women may feel pressured to stay as youthful in appearance as possible by societal standards and pressures. Perimenopausal symptoms may make these standards harder to achieve and the pressures even more distressing.
All of this is a perfect storm to cause emotional stress. Not knowing what’s causing all the new changes and stress can be overwhelming, but hope is not lost.
What to Do?
As with any changes in the body, it’s never a bad idea to talk with your doctor if you’re concerned or considering making changes to improve your overall health. Your body may be encouraging you to embrace a renewed need to prioritize your health and being healthy.
There are lifestyle choices you can make to help ease symptoms that you may be experiencing.
- Healthy diet - A healthy diet at this stage is so important. Consider choosing a diet that includes a good amount of low-fat and high-fiber options. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is a good idea at any age, but at this age, it can help act as a preventative measure for your future self.
- Stay active - Like diet, regular exercise and physical activity are essential to a healthy lifestyle during this transitional stage. An active lifestyle can prevent weight gain, promote weight loss where needed, and encourage improved sleep health. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week.
- Prioritize sleep - Puberty is a major hormonal transition, and during that time, teenagers require more sleep. Perimenopause is a hormonal transition, and practicing good sleep health habits is an intuitively good idea.
- Reduce stress - Stress is just part of life, but practicing techniques that help to reduce stress can promote overall health, help you relax, and reduce the negative effects of stress on your body. A healthy lifestyle is critical in your forties to handle the emotional and physical changes and in order to prepare for future success. During this busy time of transition, many women turn to supplements to ensure their bodies have what they need.
- Omega 3 fish oil - Assists in cell membrane structure, soothes swelling and supports overall hormonal health. Omega 3 fish oil supports healthy skin, and it can boost metabolic function, joint and cartilage function, and heart health.
- Magnesium - Improves feelings of energy, supports thyroid functions, promotes hormonal balance, and encourages improved sleep health.
Magnesium is one of the most common minerals in the human body, and it is needed in some capacity by every system in the body. Despite being so necessary, it is also common for the body to become deficient. The body uses a lot of magnesium when you are stressed, and it may become necessary to supplement magnesium to return levels to normal when your diet isn’t doing enough.
- A multivitamin for women - We have different needs depending on our sex and age. For example, multivitamins for older women will have an increased amount of vitamin Bs to support hormonal distribution. A good multivitamin can help supplement minor deficiencies.
- Vitamin C - Encourages immune system health, promotes collagen production and iron absorption, and helps maintain bone health. Vitamin C may also play a role in progesterone production. It’s also an antioxidant.
- Zinc - Encourages energy creation, promotes emotional wellness, and supports mood stability. Zinc is an important nutrient for women’s health. It can help reduce the appearance of blemishes. It can also aid in the regulation of menstruation.
- Probiotics - Encourage good gut health and discourage harmful bacteria growth in the intestines. Probiotics contain live microorganisms that promote normal microflora. Fermented foods are a good source of probiotics, but their distinct flavor means that they’re not always a popular choice despite their benefits. In this instance, supplements may be a viable solution.
- Calcium - Needed for heart health, muscle and nerve functions, and promoting bone health. Approaching menopause can increase your loss of bone mass. Calcium is an important part of reducing the risk of bone density issues later in life.
Deficiencies in any of the important minerals, vitamins, or nutrients your body needs should be discussed with your physician, and as with any supplementation, it’s important to discuss it before you begin.
Entering your forties is an exciting time for women, but with all the excitement, the body can wreak havoc with physical and emotional changes brought on by hormonal fluctuations and imbalances.
It is important to accept yourself at whatever stage you are in, but there are steps you can take to improve your overall health and well-being. Be sure to educate yourself on what to expect and what you can do.