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14 December 2010

What happens to my body in my forties and fifties?

After the age of 40, telltale signs of ageing, such as wrinkling and changing of body shape, start to appear. Menopause and osteoporosis are often associated with this age group.

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It is at this stage of a woman's life that lifestyle choices begin to play a big role. Things like healthy eating, regular exercise, no smoking, limited drinking and regular sleeping start having an effect on someone's health. In your twenties, your body can still recover relatively quickly from something like a hangover – it may take a lot longer in your fifties.

During this time your body will also go through menopause. This will be driven by hormonal changes, most notably the drop in levels of progesterone and oestrogen. Periods will stop and some women may experience the traditional menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes and mood swings, but other women may have no symptoms at all.

Your body shape could change as a result of a change in hormone levels and the fat distribution around your stomach could increase slightly.

Menopause also usually comes along at a crossroads in a woman's life: her reproductive role is over and she needs to find a new role. Menopause often coincides with otherstressful events such as children leaving home, grandchildren being born or a husband's mid-life crisis.

Many of the problems women experience during this time have more to do with our society's focus on youth, than with actual physical problems. Most women can indeed continue to experience sexual pleasure well into old age. Generally, the rule seems to hold true, that for women who have always enjoyed sex, menopause will change very little.

But for those who have never enjoyed sex, the menopause will bring about a decrease in sexual interest and enjoyment.

Taking good care of yourself mentally and physically is very important at this stage of your life. Regular checkups and a healthy lifestyle can mean the difference between a pleasant and healthy phase of your life or one that is filled with medical complications.

Taking good care of your heart, checking up on your cholesterol levels, your calcium and magnesium levels and your bone density levels are also important now. A healthy and positive outlook on life is extremely important now.

(Liesel Powell, Health24, July 2003)

 
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