Midlife Symptoms For Women

Not sure what to expect when you hit middle age? Here are some common midlife symptoms and what you should do about them.

In approaching middle age, many women are unsure about what to expect. Will it be difficult? Sad? Exciting? Dangerous?

All of the above may come into play at one time or another. One of the most significant areas of midlife is the symptoms that many women experience to one degree or another. You may feel none, some, or all of them to a greater or lesser degree. Though our matriarchal forebears did not always discuss such things openly, midlife is now recognized as an important part of life, and the accompanying symptoms should be assessed to determine if all is proceeding naturally or if you should contact the doctor.

1. Periods gradually slow and stop. As women enter peri-menopause, the period of several years leading up to menopause at around age fifty, they will probably notice that their periods become irregular. They may miss one here and there, or stop having them for a few months only to resume them once more. Sometimes the periods are more like light spotting, while at others a woman's flow may be heavier than before. If bleeding is heavy, contact the doctor who may decide to order blood tests that will show if a woman is becoming anemic or if the bleeding is a symptom of a serious problem rather than a natural indicator of pending menopause.

2. Hormones fluctuate. Women may feel serene one moment and morose the next. Little things like a memory can send her off on a crying jag or beget a feeling of sadness. Often a woman feels as though her emotions are out of control at times, which in itself is a fearful experience. Fortunately, these emotional surges often pass quickly. Bur some women whose fluctuations persist may want to check with their doctor or talk with a counselor about other possible contributing causes.

3. Hot flashes and night sweats. As hormones climb and fall, they tinker with the body's thermometer, resulting in occasional bouts of flushing and raging heat in the face and upper torso, sometimes followed by chilling or goose bumps. When this happens at night a woman may awaken to find her bed clothes damp with sweat. Keeping the bedroom cool or leaving a fan running may help to deal with these temperature extremes.

4. Body composition. Former muscle tone may relax and lead to flabby skin, especially in the upper arms, neck, and buttocks. Ask the doctor about a sensible exercise program that will help you stay fit and preserve muscle tone. Joining an exercise group or getting a walking buddy can keep the momentum and commitment going. Find someone in your neighborhood or workplace who is interested in forming a partnership to help both of you get in shape.

5. Health problems. At midlife the body can begin to lose its immunity against various illnesses and diseases, due to things like lifestyle stress, losses, and natural aging. Take vitamins and eat a healthy diet, along with getting eight hours of sleep to protect your body's defenses against this protection loss. Heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and cancer begin to move in as your body weakens. Don't give it a toehold! Stop smoking. Drink alcohol infrequently. Exercise and eat healthy. Keep hydrated. Sleep adequately. These easy steps can help you feel better and live longer.

6. Depression or anxiety. Some emotional fluctuations are natural. But if negative feelings linger, be sure to get or stay connected to family members and friends. Research shows that those with several social connections or outings each month are healthier and live longer than those who don't have such connections. Keep a diary or journal to record your feelings. Vent to an objective listener or a trusted friend.

Midlife is an exciting phase with much to offer. Follow these tips to protect your health, minimize annoying symptoms, and report questionable changes. Your body will thank you by doing its job more effectively for many years to come.

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