health talk with Adeola

Please read Dr Adeola’s response to a blog visitor’s question. The question is about changes to expect when the milestone age of 40 is reached.

Hello Dr Adeola,

Thank you for your post. My question has nothing to do with OCD but with women and ageing. I recently turned 40 and I have noticed some changes in my sight for example and a few other areas. Can you please advise on changes women/men should expect as we age and supplements that we should be using. You hear all sort of suggestions, Viet E is good, use VitC, Iron etc. Please advise on how we can take better care of ourselves. Also on changes to expect as very active and young at heart people in our 40s. Thank you

Dear Bola,

I can identify well with your need for clarification. Just recently a friend of mine and I were sharing our experiences of turning 40!  We moaned to each other about how suddenly one is about to turn 40 or just turned 40 and the changes simply drop (not creep) on one without warning. It’s clockwork, bang on time. If it creeps on people it would give some warning shots or a bit of confusion as to what’s going on but the experience is usually for most people so clear that one quickly understands and attributes them to approaching or having approached the beautiful fortified milestone.

These changes are not exhaustive but are the most common ones and the ones that most people will experience.

Period changes:

A lot of people will have heavier and prolonged periods.

Hair changes:

Less where it’s wanted  (head), with less hair fullness and/or length or loss of hairline and more where it’s unwanted. For example, some people who were previously predisposed to having excessive hair on their legs or chin area would develop more and may find this problematic to control. This is commoner in women, men seem to struggle with earlier onset of grey hair more.

Weight gain:

This can be attributable to hormonal, dietary and metabolic changes. It’s more problematic in certain areas like the lower abdomen, waist, upper arms etc. From this age onwards most people burn fewer calories so it’s advisable to eat less and healthy. It is wise to imbibe a healthier active lifestyle of healthy eating and moderate exercise ( the zeal for exercise can decrease due to decreasing fitness levels and easier fatigability but this is when to keep going ). Weight gain and difficulty with losing weight is similar in both men and women.

Digestive changes:

Lots of people complain they feel bloated easily. Bowels may become more sensitive to certain foods and toileting habits are more noticeable to vary with certain diets. Most people soon work out what suits their bellies and adjust. In women especially, bloating may become complicated with hormonal changes.

Changes in Vision:

Most people notice a change in their near vision and need to adjust reading distances to suit and may need more lighting to read or do fine tasks like threading a needle or doing a necklace clasp. Visiting an optometrist/Optician for an eye check and advice now becomes a necessity.

Sexual Function:  

Some men notice a decline in initiating or sustaining an erection and some women may notice an increased or decreased libido (sex drive). Fertility reduces in women so it may be harder to conceive but this is not a general rule as most women will still fall pregnant easily. It is advised that you should keep on an effective contraception (if you are done with childbearing) till you are menopausal which is on average around age 50/51 and you would have stopped menstruating for a minimum of one or two years and be confirmed to be menopausal. The perimenopausal period and changes start several years ahead of the actual menopause.

Increased risk of health problems:

One should now be aware that the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, breast, prostate, gynaecological problems etc increases somewhat and one should endeavour to look after one’s health by eating healthy, having  regular exercise, adequate sleep, health checks, responsible alcohol intake, stopping smoking, and seeking medical help if one notices any changes that one is unsure of.

General symptoms like aches, pain, tiredness etc are more noticeable after what previously would have been a doddle.

Age-appropriate multivitamins usually contain most of what is needed to enhance good health. Without advertising for any company in particular, I have found centrum for men and women generally tolerated and preferred amongst my clients. However, I must add that these are meant to supplement rather than replacing a healthy balanced diet of low-fat food, foods rich in fibres and grains, fruits and vegetables etc.

The changes described are not exhaustive, this is just a snapshot and the list could go on and on. Whilst they can be normal age-related changes in most people they could be a sign of ill health in others. Therefore, when uncertain about any changes it’s always better to check with a professional.

I do hope you find this helpful Bola,

My very best wishes,

Dr Adeola


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