Health concerns for women often change throughout their lives, because there are different health risks depending on your age.
While at every age, it’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet, get plenty of exercise, and practice regular self-care, some medical concerns and health risks can become increasingly prominent as you get older.
The older you get, the more you’ll need to be aware of certain health concerns for women such as menopause, osteoporosis, and a higher risk of certain chronic diseases.
Ensuring you know what to prepare for as you move through each stage of your life means you can work with your medical health professional to design an effective strategy for longevity and wellbeing.
Below is your guide to staying healthy at every age.
Health Concerns for Women in Their Teens
The transition from girlhood to womanhood typically starts during the teenage years. However, many girls also start menstruating before they turn 13. When menstruation begins, it’s the start of a transformative period for young women.
Your figure will begin changing, hair may start growing and thickening in various places on your body, and hormonal changes could lead to an increased risk of mood swings, acne, and weight gain. While major health problems are rare in the teenage years, there are some core health concerns to be aware of.
For instance, approximately 50-75% of teen girls report extremely painful periods, which can include nausea, back pain, cramps, and diarrhea. Changes in hormone production can also lead to significant mood issues. You may feel more stressed or anxious than normal, and could begin to develop issues with confidence and self-esteem. If you feel you’re struggling to manage your emotions, this could be a good time to start looking into strategies to help reduce stress and improve mindfulness.
During the teenage years, speaking with your doctor regularly about strategies you can use to manage mood swings, menstrual pain, and other common concerns such as acne can be helpful. During this time, it’s also important to ensure you’re nurturing and nourishing your growing body.
Get plenty of sleep so your body and brain can develop naturally each night, and focus on eating plenty of whole, nutritious foods. Avoid processed foods and sugary products, as this can increase your risk of chronic diseases later in life, and worsen mood swings, acne, and hormonal imbalances.
How to Stay Healthy in Your 20s
As you transition into your 20s, you’ll be branching out into adult life for the first time. Gaining weight is common during this period of your life, as your body will be adapting to its new, fully-grown frame. At the same time, many women in their 20s are exposed to significant amounts of stress, thanks to a hectic schedule of work, study, and social life.
During your 20s, try to avoid adopting unhealthy habits, such as consuming too much caffeine, abusing substances, or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Focus on preparing your body for a healthy life ahead, with regular exercise to help build your muscles and boost your immune system. Cardiovascular exercise and weight lifting will help you to build strong bones, develop your brain, and protect yourself against various forms of acute and chronic disease.
During your 20s, if you’re sexually active, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re getting regular screenings for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia, herpes and gonorrhea. While these health concerns for women will remain present for as long as you’re sexually active, it’s particularly important to be cautious if you have multiple different sexual partners.
It’s also important to start having screenings for cervical cancer after you turn 21. Most doctors will recommend having a pap smear once every 3 years at a minimum.
Your 20s could also be a good time to begin researching the other health concerns that may be common in your family, and passed down to you through your genetics. If you have a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, or increased cholesterol, getting regular tests now could be a good way to protect yourself later in life.
Protecting Your Health in Your 30s and 40s
There can be many health concerns for women to face during their 30s and 40s. If you haven’t considered starting a family before turning 30, you may want to speak to your doctor about your fertility and reproductive plans. If you’re getting a little older and want to improve your chances of conceiving at a later time such as in your late 30s or early 40s, you may choose to freeze your eggs in your early 30s.
If you’re already a mother during your 30s and 40s, you may be juggling a number of emotional and physical demands. You may be navigating hormonal changes from childbirth and nursing, as well as dealing with the increased stress of raising a family and pursuing career goals. Making sure you get plenty of sleep, and nourish your body with a healthy and balanced diet is crucial here.
During your 30s and 40s, your metabolism may begin to slow down, which could mean you notice weight gain a lot faster or somewhat unexpectedly. Finding ways to eat more mindfully and stave off unhealthy cravings can help you to preserve your weight. You’ll have to work hard in terms of being committed to a healthy diet, and exercise regularly. Try to set yourself up to follow a regular exercise routine, to keep your muscles, bones, and immune system as strong as possible.
Seeing your doctor regularly is also important during your 30s and 40s, particularly if you’re considered to be at high risk for certain genetic health conditions such as ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer. If you have high blood pressure, or other cardiac risk factors, it’s worth getting your cholesterol checked regularly from age 35, to ensure you’re protecting your heart. Getting your blood pressure checked every two years can be helpful too, particularly if you’re exposed to a lot of high-stress situations.
At age 40, you can also begin talking to your doctor about when to start screening for breast cancer. This form of cancer is one of the most common health concerns for women, and you may be able to start getting mammograms early if you’re considered to be high-risk, or if it runs in your family.
Women’s Health Concerns in Your 50s and 60s
During your 50s and 60s, your body will start to go through another period of change. For most women, menopause begins in the early 50s, and can cause a range of symptoms, from vaginal dryness to hot flashes and trouble concentrating. If your symptoms are particularly problematic, you can consider taking hormonal and non-hormonal treatments to manage them.
Notably, even if you’re no longer able to have biological children in your 50s and 60s, it’s still worth talking to an OB-GYN regularly. Gynecologists can screen for various chronic health conditions and cancers, to protect you from serious ailments.
As you move through the menopause, you’re likely to experience a number of changes to your mood and body, caused by hormonal changes at this age. You may be more likely to experience anxiety and depression, as well as insomnia, and night sweats. Changes in hormones can also lead to increases in cholesterol and blood pressure, so it’s important to keep getting regular check-ups.
During this period of your life, make sure you commit heavily to self-care, getting plenty of sleep, and looking after your mental health with methods of reducing stress, such as yoga and meditation. At age 50, you should also consider asking your doctor about colon cancer screening and colonoscopies, as many forms of colon cancer are more common at this stage of life.
Pneumonia and shingles vaccines may also be recommended by doctors to women of this age. Ask your doctor what sorts of vaccinations you should consider based on your age group. It’s also a good idea to look into bone density tests, particularly as you move into your late 60s. If you have a family history of osteoporosis, thyroid disease, or have had numerous fractures in the past, you may need to consider getting screened earlier.
Preserving Your Health in Your 70s and Beyond
As you move through your 70s and 80s, and even into your 90s, you may find your energy, balance, focus, and agility begin to decline.
The main health concerns for women in these senior years are often similar to those any older individual might encounter, such as becoming weaker and having a higher risk of fractures and broken bones. If you’re concerned about balance or stability, continuing with regular, low-impact exercise could be a good idea.
Most healthcare professionals will also recommend taking steps to reduce your risk of falls around the home. Getting your eyes checked regularly, as well as your hearing will be important, to ensure you can preserve your independence and balance. Your risk of dementia and other diseases associated with cognitive decline can also increase at this age.
This means it’s crucial to look after your brain, by continuing to interact with family and friends regularly, learning new things whenever you can, and getting plenty of sleep. Challenging your mind with brain-stimulating activities to preserve mental fitness, such as puzzles and card games, can also be an excellent way to reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
During your 70s and beyond, you may find you’re also more at risk of suffering from chronic conditions such as arthritis and diabetes. While these conditions can occur earlier in life, they can often become a lot more problematic as you get older. Speaking to your doctor about the right treatment methods and lifestyle changes you can make to protect yourself can be helpful.
Of course, many forms of cancer are common in these elder years of life. That’s why it’s important never to ignore a symptom, even if it’s something as innocuous as an oddly bright yellow color of urine. Cancer symptoms are often ignored, but anything you notice at this age should be brought up to your doctor.
Managing Health Concerns for Women Throughout Their LifeSpan
Many health concerns for women aren’t affected by age, but rather can happen at any age. Health issues such as obesity, depression, anxiety, chronic back pain, addiction, and various other health problems can occur at any stage in your life.
This means that at any age, women should be getting regular health checkups with their family doctor at least every 6 months.
Getting regular checkups from your doctor, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep will always be important at any stage of life. However, it is worth being aware of the risks that can become more prominent as you get older.
Notably, your risk factors for different diseases and health conditions can also vary depending on your genetics. Based on your DNA test results and your genetic risk factors, you may find it’s worth seeking out certain screenings, vaccinations, and other forms of preventative health earlier in life than other women without the genetic risk factors would.
Check out your Circle DNA report today to find out whether you should make any changes to your healthcare strategy based on your genetics.
- Healthy children: Menstrual Disorders in Teens
- Harvard: Take control of rising cholesterol at menopausehttps:
https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/take-control-of-rising-cholesterol-at-menopause#:~:text=Drops in the female hormone,(fat)%20known%20as%20triglyceride