Do you remember eight-track tapes and television in black and white? If so, it’s natural to wonder — maybe even worry — about how your health will hold up as you age.
“More than ever before, midlife is when women come to their doctors with concerns about their health,” says Pamela Strauss, MD, MPH, an internal medicine physician at Rush University Medical Center. “The good news is that often these concerns are unwarranted.”
Here Strauss responds to three common concerns women bring to her.
1. My sex life will become less satisfying. “Many women find they actually enjoy sex more as they age,” Strauss says. One reason is that, after menopause, women no longer need to worry about unplanned pregnancies.
Moreover, by midlife, women often have the confidence to talk candidly with their partners about their sexual needs.
However, if you experience waning desire without an obvious cause, such as a medication’s side effects, talk to your doctor. There may be options to help improve your sex drive.
2. I’m going to put on pounds. To a certain extent, our bodies do conspire against us as we age. We typically lose muscle, which slows the metabolism and means we don’t need to consume as many calories as we did in our 20s and 30s.
“Even so, weight gain is not inevitable,” Strauss says. Scrutinize your diet and change habits that promote overeating, such as skipping breakfast and grocery shopping on an empty stomach.
And make it a point to be more active. Begin your day with a brisk 30-minute walk, and lift weights — strength training speeds up an aging metabolism.
3. My memory will fade. “Occasional forgetfulness, although irritating, is not a red flag of a serious problem such as Alzheimer’s disease,” Strauss says. Although it may take longer to recall things, most of us remain mentally sharp and capable as we age.
In fact, according to Strauss, working out your brain — by tackling a daily crossword puzzle or regularly reading the newspaper — may help you stay sharp in midlife and beyond.
No matter what your concern, physicians at Rush will be happy to help you navigate the changes associated with midlife. Call (888) 352-RUSH (7874) to make an appointment.