When women reach perimenopause in their mid-forties, the number of eggs that they produce decreases dramatically. If you are 45 and trying to conceive, the odds are that you will not be successful, and infertility ultimately sets in about 5 to 10 years before menopause. If you want to become a mother by having a biological child (adopting a child can remain a viable option after the age of 45), you will need to check that item off of your list around your fortieth birthday, if not sooner. On the other hand, men can continue fathering children for pretty much the rest of their lives.
23. You Can’t Handle Your Liquor Like You Once Could
As you age to 40, your liver will actually begin losing its toughness and will not be able to metabolize alcohol as quickly as when you were in your twenties. You will start feeling drunk after fewer drinks, and hangovers will be much worse. If you have hit your fortieth birthday, the time has come to stop partying like you just turned 21. Limit the alcohol to one or two drinks per day, and stop drinking to get drunk. Your body just cannot handle the alcohol anymore.
You may have thought that only kids develop asthma, but did you know that you can still get asthma in your forties? Adult-onset asthma can be challenging to diagnose because of the constellation of symptoms surrounding it. Dry cough, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath can all be warning signs of adult-onset asthma. Your risk factors increase if you have childhood asthma (it may have resolved in your twenties but could relapse), are overweight or obese, and/or live in an area with a high level of pollution. If you think you may have adult-onset asthma, talk with your doctor.
Cancer can develop at any time in your life, including while you are still in your mother’s womb. Nevertheless, one of the biggest risk factors for cancer is age, and as you age, you will be at increased risk for developing all kinds of cancers. Regular testing, such as colonoscopies, mammograms, Pap smears and prostate checks are your friend here in helping detect cancer early. If you have not prioritized a healthy lifestyle before now, start filling up on fruits and vegetables instead of meat, sugar, and starches. Get plenty of exercise, reduce your stress level, and prioritize the most meaningful relationships in your life.
As you age to 40, your taste buds become less sensitive, so your favorite foods may no longer have the kick that you once found so satisfying. And because taste is so connected to smell, both senses will begin to go down. The loss in taste is especially more felt in people with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. You may be tempted to use more salt or eat more sweets, both of which are pretty bad for your health all around. You may need to adjust the foods you are eating to experience their taste without adding salt and sugar.
If you thought that getting older was a drag, consider this benefit: you may actually become more resistant to the common cold! You have already had so much exposure to colds throughout the past four decades that your body has built up immunity to it. So you will be able to go to family gatherings with all of the kids and might not leave with the cold that you had when you were in your twenties or thirties. Eating healthy, with plenty of fruits and vegetables instead of animal products and sweets, can also help.
Brain fog is that uncomfortable feeling of not being able to think clearly, remember details, or stay focused on what you are working on. You have probably experienced bouts of brain fog throughout your life, but once you hit 40, hormonal changes can cause it to worsen and happen more frequently. You will be especially prone to brain fog if you are overly stressed, depressed, sleep-deprived, or experiencing a blood-sugar imbalance. If you are experiencing brain fog frequently, check in with your doctor and see if you can find the source of it.
A stroke occurs when part of the blood supply to your brain is cut off. About 30 to 120 out of every 100,000 Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 experience a stroke each year, and the risk factor increases with age. One of the greatest risk factors for stroke is high blood pressure, and the good news is that this condition can be mitigated and sometimes even resolved through lifestyle changes alone. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables every day, reduce your consumption of animal-based products (you do not have to become a vegan, but significantly lower how many cow-based products you are eating), and get regular exercise.
This point applies to women in particular. Few people enjoy sweating, making them feel sticky and may cause unpleasant odors. However, sweating is a significant body function to help you cool off when you are overheated and release toxins that can build up in your body. As you get older, you may begin to sweat less because of changes to your sweat glands. In fact, a study has shown that postmenopausal women secreted much less following a workout than younger women. While you may appreciate not sweating so much, be aware that not sweating puts you at an increased risk for heatstroke.
That luscious mane of your twenties could begin to weaken after you hit your forties. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to maintain the health of your hair in your forties. Wash your hair and scalp regularly with shampoo that contains fatty acids to help retain moisture. Eat lots of green, leafy vegetables, healthy fats, and plenty of protein. Green leafy vegetables have the B vitamins that your hair needs to remain healthy, and much of your hair is actually made of protein!
One natural byproduct of aging is that the cartilage in your joints begins to wear down, potentially leading to osteoarthritis and all of the aches and pains that go with it. This breakdown in cartilage can be exacerbated by hormone imbalances, chronic inflammation, and obesity. Your diet can play a huge role in alleviating the aches and pains that come with aging. Eat non-acidic foods, limit your meat consumption, and dramatically cut down on salt and sugar. You may also want to check in with your doctor to see about supplements that can help with cartilage repair.
The elasticity in your skin allows it to snap back quickly after it is pulled in one direction or another. Once you are in your forties, you will begin to see fine lines and wrinkles appear because your skin is not as elastic as it once was. You will need to start adjusting your skin care regimen by focusing on moisturizing your skin more than you did before. Also, make sure that you are eating for healthy skin by prioritizing plant-based products that will give your skin that sought-after glow.
A urinary tract infection, otherwise known as a UTI, can develop at any age, even in infancy, but these dreaded infections become much more common with age. As the muscles in your bladder weaken, you may find that you are having trouble emptying your bladder completely. This creates a considerable risk factor for a UTI, as bacteria can begin to build up inside your bladder instead of being excreted when you need to pee. Don’t try to hold it and go to the bathroom whenever you feel the urge to urinate. Even if you are in a hurry, try to empty your bladder completely.
People between the ages of 30 to 50 are at the highest risk of developing a herniated disc in their spines. The result is radiating pain throughout the back, buttocks, and thighs. Lower back pain becomes especially common at the time of your fortieth birthday. The good news is that there is plenty that you can do to help alleviate the problem. Physical therapy can help build muscles that will protect your back. Swimming regularly is a great way to get exercise without straining your back. Check with your doctor for ways to help deal with back pain without becoming dependent on painkillers.
Having goals is important, and achieving them is equally essential. You should ‘never give up’ on something you really want. However, as you hit 40, and thereafter, don’t be surprised if you are okay with taking a more relaxed approach to getting what you want. Your dreams are still important, but don’t deny that as you get older, you have less energy and big dreams seem more out of reach as you age. Don’t feel guilty to go with the flow and settle for something else, even if you did have a plan in mind since you were 10. Just try to seek an alternate route that still satisfies you in the meantime.
9. Your “Weird” Personality Traits May Become More Exaggerated
You probably thought that quirky habit was just a random thing when you were younger, but you will notice that you have specific traits that shine through by the time you turn 40. It’s not like you are changing overnight, or purposely doing something extra. You just get more comfortable as you age, and don’t mind pronouncing yourself instead of concealing anything. Say goodbye to insecurities and let go of the fear of judgment you had in your 20s and say hello to the quirky 40s.
There is a double whammy here, especially for women. The hair on your head will begin thinning, and you will notice more hair on your face. And not only are you seeing more hair, but it is thicker and darker than face hairs that may have appeared in your twenties or thirties. Blame changing hormones for the extra time you will have to spend tweezing or going to the beauty salon (not unlike the facial hair that can appear during pregnancy due to hormones). Experts recommend laser hair removal, and there are plenty of devices you can buy and use at home.
As you age to 40, your muscles naturally begin to weaken. Unfortunately, the muscles in your digestive tract can easily fall victim to muscle weakness, leading to digestive problems that include irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, and peptic ulcers. You can help alleviate the muscle loss and ensuing uncomfortable conditions by eating healthy foods with plenty of fiber (not just taking fiber supplements) and getting plenty of exercise. If you are experiencing bowel discomfort, check-in with your doctor to see if there may be something that you can do. You may need to get a colonoscopy, which is something that you will have to start anyway as you age.
Lactose intolerance is another one of those conditions that can develop at any age, but many people associate it with children. Adult-onset lactose intolerance is not uncommon, and its prevalence actually increases the older you get. If eating dairy gives you a stomachache and maybe sends you running for the bathroom, there is a good chance that you have developed lactose intolerance. The condition is easily managed with dietary adjustments, such as using plant-based milk (which on the whole is healthier than cow’s milk) and dairy-free sorbet instead of ice cream.
5. You Can Choose How To Respond to Situations with Confidence
Not every situation even deserves a response, and you will learn that as you age. However, you can also choose how you want to respond when the time is right. If you were a dramatic teen or reactive young adult, you may notice your habits slowly shifting as you turn 40. By that age, you will learn yourself, how you are programmed, and how to control it. Refine your personality, as complex as it is, and allow it to shine when appropriate.
What’s acceptable, appropriate, and even legal may change as you age. Things that were funny in your 20s may be not-so-silly in your 40s. Your life experiences will change the way you engage with the world. As you encounter that change, your ideas will likely develop and entertain new concepts you never considered before. Sharon Podobnik Peterson describes this stance perfectly. She is the founder of the self-help book subscription box GoLoveYourself.
Remember how we said you won’t care as much as you age, and that’s a good thing? This carefree attitude will help you handle stress better. As things happen, you won’t be as bothered, and can probably just let it go. Something that would cause an emotional response in your 20s may be nothing more but a causal conservation in your 40s. Plus, when serious things do happen, like the loss of a job or a death in the family, you will be ready to cope in a mature way.
Muscular atrophy, or weakening of your muscles, commonly happens as you get older. You can avoid much of that atrophy by going to the gym regularly or getting a daily walk, but some of it occurs in places where you cannot do much about it. Take your throat, for example. You cannot exercise your throat at the gym, and as those muscles weaken, you may begin to experience difficulty swallowing. Your reflexes may have difficulty determining if you are swallowing a solid or a liquid, and you may start experiencing some discomfort when eating and drinking.
Again, this age-related change is more common in women and is heavily associated with hormonal changes around perimenopause. Another reason you may experience a decrease in libido is the mounting stress that tends to build up around the age of forty. You are no longer young and dumb and have to consider things that you may not have realized before. Alternatively, maybe you just have so many responsibilities now that you did not once have that you just lose interest. Stress management can help here and many other age-related health conditions that tend to set in around the age of 40.