Turning 40 is a milestone. With the average life expectancy in the U.S. at about 81 years for women, the 40-year mark is just shy of the halfway point, and an ideal time to approach your future health and wellness, proactively. Just like the 10,000 mile checklist to ensure your car runs smoothly, your 40+ year body comes with a checklist of preventive suggestions to ensure smoother sailing for the next 40 years and beyond.
At this age, it becomes particularly important to shift how we think about our overall health as we enter and transition through perimenopause and menopause. While this phase of life typically comes with some health concerns more generally tied to aging, some of these health shifts are likely going to be tied to the hormonal changes you’re experiencing as you approach or continue your transition through menopause.
This checklist includes evidence-based, medical recommendations that are both backed by science and abide by best practices that are designed to help women stay healthy after 40, from general health to hormonal health, and more.
Gynecological Heath Care for the 40+ Woman
For starters, a yearly gynecologic wellness exam is suggested. Depending on where you live, this might be a yearly visit to an OBGYN, an internist or a family medicine provider. Women’s wellness exams can become even more important as we age, since these appointments often evolve into discussions about the hormonal shifts that can accompany the menopausal transition. These hormonal shifts can contribute to the onset of new symptoms (such as hot flashes and increased moodiness) that absolutely should be discussed with your healthcare provider to determine what treatment options are available to help.
Many 40+ women will start to experience symptoms of hormonal changes. The average age of menopause is 51 and menopause is defined as 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period. Perimenopause, or the years leading up to menopause, is a common time for women to experience bothersome symptoms such as irregular bleeding, hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal changes. In many instances, treatment is indicated for these disruptive symptoms. Additionally, contraception and fertility awareness warrant discussion until menopause is established.