Your Changing Body After 50: A Woman's Guide
Life after 50 is a time when many women experience greater self-confidence, a better sense of self, and higher levels of life satisfaction. However, for women turning 50, it's prudent to be aware of additional age-related health concerns that are often encountered during the post-menopausal years.
Important Check-Ups During Middle Age
As you go through your change of life, your body will undergo many changes related to fluctuating hormones and age. After 50, certain medical tests are in order. For example, regular colonoscopies or other forms of colon screening should start at age 50. These tests serve to locate any intestinal polyps so that they can be removed before they have the chance to develop into colorectal cancer. After age 50, women with asthma or diabetes are at a higher risk for contracting pneumonia. For this reason, it is recommended that women with these conditions get a pneumonia vaccine every five years after turning 50.
Your skeletal system also needs extra attention once you've reached middle age. Taking in enough calcium and vitamin D is crucial, as is getting regular bone density scans if low bone density is a concern for you. Skeletal problems such as osteoporosis and joint pain can be a common part of life after 50, so bone health should not be neglected.
After you turn 50, your risk of various other medical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, also increases. For these and other reasons, after age 50 it will become increasingly important to see your doctor for regular check-ups.
Menopause: A Defining Feature of Life After 50
The average age of menopause onset is approximately 51 years old. You will have officially reached menopause when you haven't had a period in over a year. During menopause, hormone levels change, with estrogen levels dropping rapidly. You may find that menopause gives you unwanted side effects including vaginal dryness, low libido, hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, weight gain, mood swings, low energy levels and more. Fortunately, there are many over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help relieve uncomfortable menopause symptoms. These include medications that contain hormones, antidepressants, anti-hot flash medication and various vaginal creams and ointments.
Although menopause can be a very unpleasant time, it also has its upside. When you no longer have a menstrual cycle, you can say goodbye to cramps and bleeding. Many women also feel free when they no longer have to worry about birth control.
Sex and Intimacy During Middle Age
Menopause may affect women's sex lives in a negative way. Drops in hormone levels can decrease a woman's libido and vaginal dryness caused by menopause can make having sex unpleasant. Personal lubricants, vaginal creams, hormone therapy and libido-boosting supplements such as ginseng or maca root can help reignite the spark.
Regardless of the negative effects of menopause, for the majority of people, sex actually gets better with age. A survey done by the National Council on Aging revealed that 72 percent of people over the age of 60 thought their sex lives were more satisfying than when they were in their 40s. This is largely due to increased confidence and improved body image that happens as you get older, as well as the fact that the longer you're with your partner, the more you are liekly to know what he or she likes in bed. Additionally, many women find that with age, reaching orgasm becomes easier.
Why Look Forward to Turning 50?
The average life expectancy for an American female is 81 years. Even at age 50, you likely have almost half of your life still ahead of you. Most people don't realize how enjoyable growing old can actually be.
It is true that as you age, your appearance changes. Wrinkles, gray hair and saggy skin may eventually appear. Nevertheless, a great many women actually become more comfortable with their bodies and happier with their appearance as they grow older. This new-found confidence often crosses over into other areas of your life. After turning 50, you will likely feel more confident and secure in your career, self-worth and abilities.
Life after 50 comes with a surprising sense of freedom. Although many women are saddened when their children have left home, the "empty nest" can actually be relieving. With fewer family responsibilities, many women revel in the extra time they have to work on their hobbies, go back to school, focus on their career, or simply relax.