By Rohini Mankar | 26th May 2023
When I see girls in their 20s, I feel happy for them, but I also worry about their health. I’m not concerned because they are growing and achieving their goals. But because they often ignore their health. Starting today, taking care of our bodies is essential for a longer and happier life. When I was in my 20s, my mother always ensured I ate nutritious food like nuts and veggies. She taught me that it’s not about physical health. We need to cater for our social, mental, and emotional well-being. Now that I’m in my late 30s, I understand the importance of caring for myself in all these aspects. In this article, I want to share the experiences I’m going through in my late 30s.
But before sharing my experiences, I would like to tell you why I will share them. The world observes May 28th each year as International Day of Women’s Health. The Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) got recognition in 1984. The WGNRR organises the International Day of Action for Women’s Health. Sexual and reproductive health is a fundamental right. It belongs to women of all ages and religions across the world.
The Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights(SRHR) include:
The day serves as a reminder of women’s unique health challenges. International Day of Women’s Health promotes the health and well-being of women. These initiatives may include educational campaigns, health screenings, workshops, and conferences. They aim to empower women with knowledge and resources for informed health decisions.
Women in their late 30s may face health problems affecting their health and quality of life. Over time, some health problems for women have improved. But, still, some issues haven’t improved. At the same time, new health concerns have come up. One ongoing issue is the need to understand women’s health better. We need to focus on their diverse needs. Each woman’s health journey is unique. Here are some health-related challenges that can arise during this phase for a woman:
I was often told to get married around 25 and start a family by 28. People considered having a child at the age of 30 as late. But I managed to have a baby before my 30s. Gen Z women have a completely different timeline. As a result, many of them may experience a common reproductive disorder called PCOS. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder affecting women in their twenties. PCOS is a condition where women experience irregular periods. It also involves the production of too much male hormones and the presence of small cysts on the ovaries. PCOS can lead to difficulties in getting pregnant, weight gain, and acne. Additionally, it increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart-related problems.
Fertility begins to reduce in a woman’s late 30s. I have seen that some of my friends are experiencing difficulty in conceiving. The chances of getting pregnant decrease. Women with PCOS have a higher chance of experiencing miscarriage and pregnancy complications. They also face an increased risk of having children with congenital disabilities. Women planning to have children in their 30s may opt for fertility clinics. These clinics provide treatment to enhance their chances of conception.
Over the years, I have noticed that I tend to be quite volatile when I have my PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome). I scream, and sometimes I cry for no reason. I experience extreme emotions. These mood swings are due to Hormonal imbalances or changes. During the late 30s, hormonal fluctuations become more evident in women. This occurs as they approach perimenopause, the transitional phase before menopause. These changes can cause irregular menstruation, mood swings, hot flashes, and night sweats. They can also cause sleep disturbances and changes in libido. Women may also experience symptoms related to hormonal imbalances. These symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, and changes in skin and hair.
Did you know that India is the diabetes capital of the world? More than 1 in 10 women aged 35 to 49 years have diabetes in India, according to a 2020 research study. As women age, they have a greater chance of developing metabolic conditions. These conditions include insulin resistance, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes. Changes in hormones can affect how the body processes food and energy. Sitting for long periods and eating unhealthy foods can cause these conditions. In their late 30s, women face an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. They must focus on heart-healthy habits, including regular exercise and a balanced diet.
I neglected calcium intake during childhood and pregnancy. It has taken a toll on my bone health. Sitting or standing for long hours cause pain. If I had listened to my grandma in my early 20s, I wouldn’t have had to endure the pain. Bone density is critical because it affects future bone health and osteoporosis risk. Women in their late 30s may start to experience a decline in bone density. Get enough calcium and vitamin D for your bones, and do weight-bearing exercises. It’s crucial for Indian women to build up their bone mass during their prime years. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, and the peri-and postmenopausal periods need more calcium. In India, osteoporosis affects approximately 1 in 4 women over 50. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of calcium intake for women aged 19-50 is 1000mg. The recommended daily vitamin D intake is 800 to 1000 IU. Are you taking enough calcium and vitamin D?
Read more – Symptoms and causes of Vitamin D Deficiency
Women are multitaskers. They look after the needs of their in-laws, parents, and children. Women carry out household chores as well. If the woman is working, it becomes even more tedious. Women in their late 30s may face various mental health challenges. Many women experience anxiety, depression, and mood disorders. The expectations of work, family, and personal life can impact a woman’s mental health. Seeking support, practising self-care, and engaging in stress-reducing activities promote mental wellness. Some women suffer from mental disorders that don’t have visible symptoms. Such women seek support from loved ones. Those who have chosen to become mothers post-30s also go through Postpartum depression. Most of us may not have encountered these terms, but we have experienced them. According to studies, postpartum depression is more prevalent in urban areas. In India, the average length of time a woman stays in a health facility after giving birth is less than 72 hours. The healthcare professional often lacks time to discuss postpartum depression symptoms. Most of the time, we are unaware of when to seek help for the mother. Let us all decide to uplift each other by supporting mothers.
I had been for a complete body check-up a few years ago. My gynaecologist then told me to get a mammography done. I wondered why she asked me to do mammography when I was healthy. My doctor advised that regular mammography every three years is essential. Breast health remains an important consideration for women in their late 30s. Among Indian females, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer. Of every 100,000 women in India, 25.8 are diagnosed with breast cancer. Moreover, out of every 100,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer, 12.7 died due to the disease.
Breast cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment are essential. It focuses on awareness, early detection, and access to appropriate medical care. Regular breast exams are crucial as breast cancer risk increases with age. Have you got your mammography done?
Every day, as I gaze into the mirror, I question where I am gaining weight. Despite controlled eating and physical activity, I’ve gained weight around my abdomen. My nutritionist explained that metabolism slows down in the late 30s. Thus, making weight management more challenging. Experts have noted that it is becoming common for women over 30 to be nutrient deficient. These deficiencies can have a significant impact on their health and careers. Hormonal changes, lifestyle factors, and decreased muscle mass can contribute to weight gain. Don’t follow dieting as a fad which leads to various nutritional deficiencies. Maintaining a healthy weight requires balanced nutrition and regular physical activity.
Women may experience changes in sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction as they age. Women in their late 30s may experience reduced sexual desire and dryness in the vagina. They may also encounter pain during intercourse and difficulty reaching orgasm. Hormonal shifts, stress, relationship dynamics, and other factors can contribute to sexual dysfunction. In India, sexual dysfunction affects around 35% of women. Indicating that many women face challenges in their sexual experiences. Around 23% of women in India face sexual problems that impact their personal lives and relationships. These challenges often stem from issues with desire, arousal, lubrication, and feelings of anxiety related to sex. The majority of women know how important sex is to their lives. Many women feel uncomfortable discussing these issues with their partners. Open communication and support are essential in addressing sexual health concerns. They can contribute to improving well-being and satisfaction in intimate relationships.
Having said all this, are we doing enough to feel healthy, satisfied and happy?
Women face unique challenges due to changes in their bodies. The stress of fulfilling as caregivers and breadwinners can be overwhelming for individuals. Additionally, the expectation of meeting specific appearance standards adds to the stress.
Here are some things you can do to reduce your symptoms until this transitional phase passes
The International Day of Women’s Health brings hope and positivity. Its impact is undeniable. It brings attention to the specific health needs and rights of women worldwide. It helps make sure that women get the healthcare they need and deserve. Gender-sensitive healthcare promotes equal health opportunities. Considering the specific needs and experiences of men and women ensures healthcare fairness. The goal is to create a world where every woman can access good healthcare and live a healthy and happy life.
Upadhyay, R. P., Chowdhury, R., Salehi, A., Sarkar, K., Singh, S. K., Sinha, B., Pawar, A. S., Rajalakshmi, A. K., & Kumar, A. (2017). Postpartum depression in India: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 95(10), 706-717C. https://doi.org/10.2471/blt.17.192237
Malvia, S., Bagadi, S. a. R., Dubey, U. S., & Saxena, S. (2017b). Epidemiology of breast cancer in Indian women. Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology., 13(4), 289–295. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajco.12661
Singh, N., Sharma, P., & Mishra, N. (2020). Female sexual dysfunction: Indian perspective and role of Indian gynecologists. Indian Journal of Community Medicine, 45(3), 333. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7745813/
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