Hard facts on being a woman in her 40s


Gone are the days when there were more women than men in the country. Latest statistics show that “the percentage of female population is 49.8 percent compared to 50.2 percent male population” or that’s 55.74 million males and 55.31 million females in the Philippines. More and more women, like me, are likewise hitting the age of 40 and then quietly rolling into mid 40s to be exact. Hence, more and more women are getting anxious to find out the old adage that life begins at 40.

The hard fact is there are changes in the woman’s body that cannot be refuted by adages. First off, we begin to gain weight due to a slowdown in our metabolism even though our eating and exercise habits do not change. Our bodies have evolved the past four decades or so and at this point, the reality is our bodies need less than it did before. Dr. Patricia Joseph of the Montefiore Nyack Hospital Medicine puts it simply. Women in their 40s need to eat less to maintain the same weight. Cutting back on our usual food intake, especially on sweets and food with high sodium, as well as alcohol, would usually do the trick.

Her second advice, which may be more difficult to start for women like me who have never frequented the gym as work and raising families have been priorities, is to stay active to manage one’s weight, and more importantly, to reduce risk of common diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and osteoporosis. We don't have to set our sights on running a marathon, but as little as walking 30 minutes a day, four or five times a week is a good way to start. Make our goals attainable and realistic.
But here is the real hard fact that not a lot of women in their 40s actually acknowledge – menopause.

While some may view menopause as more of a psychological fear as it is the evident loss of youth, the physical effects of menopause along with other physical changes must not be taken lightly. Dr. Joseph reassures us, “a very large number have no or mild symptoms.” Dr. Joseph assures his patients that menopause is slow for most women. While some women have night sweats or hot flashes, some women don't have them at all or have mild symptoms. For most women, we may not have the hot flashes as menopause happens four or five times slower. What is paramount is we finally take time from our busy schedules to take care of our health needs.

While we may have been religiously taking our pets to the vet, we must now give time and attention to see our OB-GYN for annual mammograms and, pelvic exams and pap tests to look for signs of disease or abnormalities in the breast, uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and bladder.

Clinical trials prove that screening mammograms can help reduce deaths from breast cancer in women aged 40 to 74. Pelvic and pap tests can detect cervical cancer early as this particular test looks for precancerous, cell changes on the cervix that can develop into cervical cancer if not treated immediately.
Dr. Maripaz Rama of The Medical City suggests more “advanced” treatments that women in their 40s can do including femilift, fotona and thermiva that are all available in the Philippines. These treatments are meant to counter urinary incontinence and vaginal laxity.

While women may have anxiety being on the older spectrum, I believe that ageing like fine wine does not only belong to the men anymore. We have seen countless female celebrities who have proven that we can age gracefully. From 60-year-old Demi Moore, 72-year-old Vera Wang, to Filipino actresses like Alice Dixson and Dawn Zulueta, who in my opinion, look so much better now than they did 20 years ago (check their Instagram accounts to see what I mean), I can honestly say that age is but a number. I, for one, feel much better about myself than I did when I was in my 20s. But with maintaining physical beauty, we must now be more mindful of taking care of our health.