A registered nurse's health tips for women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s

By Angie McLaughlin, RN, BSN. Angie is one of the Everlywell in-house registered nurses. Angie’s experience is broad, ranging from public health/preventive care to long-term acute care, and family medicine. Angie is passionate about helping others understand how to improve their overall health and well-being—and is a two-time nominee for the Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses.


Each decade brings a new set of exciting changes and challenges to a woman’s life. Whether you are venturing out on your own, preparing to start a family, or have a thriving career—it’s important to prioritize your health at every stage of life.

As an RN, I have firsthand experience in public health, preventive care, long-term acute care, and family medicine. And I’m passionate about helping others understand how to improve their overall health and well-being. Below I’ve compiled a few high-level health tips for women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s to illustrate the importance of implementing healthy behaviors and preventive care. Of course, every woman’s health journey is unique, so it’s essential to build a relationship with your primary care doctor to closely monitor your health over time.

20s

Preventive care: Start your preventive screenings now. These preventive services allow you to minimize potential health risks in the future and safely discuss concerns about your physical or mental health with a trusted physician. For instance, a well-woman visit is a full check-up with a focus on preventive care. They often include a pap smear, breast exam to look for lumps or irregularities, and screenings like HPV, a virus that could lead to cervical cancer. Most insurance plans cover these visits at no cost to you. By detecting potential health risks earlier on, the better chance you have to treat them effectively.

Stay active: You don’t need a pricey gym membership to stay active. You can walk, bike, hike, or play recreational sports to get your body moving and strengthen your muscles, including your heart. Healthy habits like staying active can help prevent possible health issues like high blood pressure or heart disease when you get older. According to research from Northwestern University, staying healthy in your 20s is strongly associated with lowering your risk for heart disease. It’s all about finding an exercise that works best for you now, so you can stick with it.

30s

Metabolism drop: Although many things get better with age, in general, our metabolism isn’t one of them. Metabolic rate tends to decrease as we get older which can make it more difficult to maintain a healthy body weight. Keeping up with your exercise regime and maintaining a healthy diet will help combat the metabolic slow-down. If you are concerned about your metabolism, energy levels, or are experiencing unexpected weight loss or weight gain, consider taking our at-home Metabolism Test.

Fertility focus: Be mindful of your fertility in this decade of life. Another aspect of health that begins to steadily decline as we age is fertility. But with more women waiting until their 30s and 40s to have children, it’s useful to know what’s ahead in your fertility journey. Being infertile means not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying. About 10% of women (6.1 million) in the United States aged 15–44 years have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, making it more common than you might think.

There are many ways to help plan for a family and obtain support if you’re struggling to conceive. If you’re thinking about starting a family or are concerned about your fertility health, you can always take our at-home Women’s Fertility Test for a detailed assessment into the hormone levels that can affect your menstrual cycle and ovulation.

40s

Mammogram screenings: It’s time to get a mammogram. The American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms starting at age 45. This screening is vital to detecting breast cancer early. The American Cancer Society also reports that years of research have shown that women who have regular mammograms are more likely to detect breast cancer early, less likely to need a more aggressive treatment like surgery or chemotherapy, and are more likely to be cured.

Menopause change: Prepare for menopause symptoms. According to the Office on Women’s Health, menopause is when a woman’s period stops permanently, usually confirmed when a woman doesn’t get her period for 12 consecutive months. The average age of menopause in the United States is between 51 and 52 years old. And before menopause takes place, you may experience perimenopause. This is the natural transition leading to menopause and can last up to ten years for some women.

During this time, your body may provide clues that menopause is nearing. Symptoms can include hot flashes, irregular periods, mood swings, sleep disturbances, and more. You can speak to your physician about the effective treatments and lifestyle adjustments to help relieve your signs and symptoms. (You can also test hormones involved with the menopause transition with the at-home Perimenopause Test.)

Conclusion

There are many other activities, screenings, and lifestyle changes you can make to help maintain and create a healthy life. Continue to foster your relationship with the physicians you trust and feel empowered to get insights into your body. The more you learn about your health and wellness, the better prepared you’ll be for whatever new changes are ahead.


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References

1. Health screenings for women ages 18 to 39. MedlinePlus. URL. Accessed May 28, 2020.

2. Preventive Health Screenings for Women. HealthyWomen.org. URL. Accessed May 28, 2020.

3. Liu K, Daviglus ML, Loria CM, et al. Healthy lifestyle through young adulthood and the presence of low cardiovascular disease risk profile in middle age: the Coronary Artery Risk Development in (Young) Adults (CARDIA) study. Circulation. 2012;125(8):996‐1004. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.060681

4. Weight Gain in Women at Midlife: A Concise Review of the Pathophysiology and Strategies for Management. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed May 28, 2020.

5. Why It Really Is Harder for Women to Lose Weight and What To Do! Cleveland Clinic. URL. Accessed May 28, 2020.

6. Female Infertility. HHS.gov. URL. Accessed May 28, 2020.

7. American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Screening Guideline. American Cancer Society. URL. Accessed May 28, 2020.

8. Menopause basics. Womenshealth.gov. URL. Accessed May 28, 2020.

9. Menopause. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed May 28, 2020.

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