30 Health Screenings Every Woman Over 40 Needs, According to Doctors

Women in their 40s are at higher risk for heart disease, breast cancer, and osteoporosis.

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With stars like and looking decades younger than their actual age, 40 is definitely the new 30. Woman are no longer dreading reaching middle age and are feeling healthier than ever, thanks to the latest fitness and wellness trends. But aging comes with a lot of changes, too. It's usually around 40 when some women start to form deeper fine lines and . The big 4-0 also signals the importance of doing health screenings regularly. For example, at age 40, women should have their first .

"Women must always remain proactive about their health at every age," says , MD, a board-certified integrative medicine physician, women's health expert and author of . The good news is there are ways to anticipate where your health is headed as you age through preventative screenings and an active lifestyle. Remember, age is just a number so keep it that way!

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Weight gain

Losing weight in your 20s was as easy as cutting out soda for a week, but as women age, it gets and easier to gain it. "Age, inactivity, stress levels, and poor dietary choices are the biggest precluding factors to weight gain," says , MD, a New York City-based OB/GYN and director of perinatal services at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx. "Staying active is key," she explains.

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Fatigue and low energy

may not seem like something new to a woman in her 40s. After all, you're probably working full-time, raising children, and managing a home, but as women age, they tend to get more tired, quicker. This is due mainly to hormonal changes happening from . "Consistent sleep is a key factor in rejuvenating and replenishing the body," Dr. Bhatia says. Dr. Bhatia recommends seven hours of consistent sleep for five nights a week.

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Cardiovascular disease

"This is the most common cause of death in American women," Dr. Gaither says. Over time, plaque builds up in the arteries, causing them to narrow and harden. "This prevents the normal flow of blood and oxygen that the heart needs. A clot may develop over the plaque, blocking the flow to the heart leading to a ." This is just another reason diet and exercise are so important.

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Poor libido

There are numerous reasons women in their 40s experience a . Everything from hormonal changes to vaginal dryness could be the cause. Sometimes the solution can be as simple as using an estrogen cream, but in other cases, it may mean something more serious. Always talk to your doctor no matter how serious or not you think the issue is.

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Breast cancer

"Breast and cervical cancer are the two most common cancers affecting women," Dr. Gaither says. can occur at any age, but the risk increases with age. "Cervical cancer can affect any woman who is or has been sexually active, but it primarily occurs in women who have had HPV, are immune compromised, have poor nutrition, and don't get pap smears," she adds. Routine are key once you hit 40.

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As if fatigue and weren't issue enough, insomnia plagues many middle-aged women as well. In fact, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that close to 20% of women age 40 to 59 said they had trouble falling asleep on four or more nights a week. The study explains that for many this is due to the onset of . Night sweats, skyrocketing body temperatures, and mood swings can all affect sleep patterns.

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Thinning hair

Although hair loss for both men and women is , hormones during menopause can play a roll as well. But there are and treatments you can take in order to help prevent , so if you're worried, ask your doctor.

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Mood swings

Women deal with mood swings from puberty, but as the pre-menopausal years begin to creep up, the hormonal changes can feel unbearable. Dr. Taz recommends learning to manage early. "Stress drives cortisol which drives disease," she says. "Managing stress and the cortisol response is a skill that everyone needs to learn and practice to stay healthy." Some of the best ways include breath work, meditation, acupuncture, massage, , or enjoying the outdoors.

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GI Issues

, gas, and changes in can occur for a variety of reasons, but if they become a more common occurrence around your 40s, it's probably be due to — you guessed it — hormones. The menopausal changes occurring in your body can lead to the same digestive issues women experience while they're on their or right before they get it.

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Although more common in men, women nearing middle-age are more likely to see a rise in . The good news is it's usually due to factors that can be helped, like weight, diet, and exercise. Stay up-to-date on your doctor visits because your blood pressure can rise without you feeling any symptoms.

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Slowed metabolism

After 40 your tends to slow down by about 5% every decade. This doesn't mean when you hit 40 all is lost; it just means you have to be smarter about your food choices and make time to exercise more frequently.

"Find ways to be creative with your food intake because as your metabolism changes, your portion size and activity level play a much more significant factor in weight maintenance and weight loss," explains , MD, a Chicago-based OB/GYN and founder of Her Viewpoint. "The decrease in estrogen during menopause causes changes in metabolism, hormone maintenance, and heart health," she explains.

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Dr. Gaither says obesity is one of the key factors in as you age. "Obesity is a predisposing factor to diabetes development," she explains. If you're overweight and nearing middle age, your risk for developing diabetes is higher. See your doctor if you're concerned.

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Ahh, menopause — a defining moment in every middle-aged woman's life. Although menopause isn't necessarily something to worry about, the symptoms that go along with it, like hormonal imbalances, changes in metabolism, reduced energy, and , can cause concern.

As you near middle age, . "We spend so much time preparing women for puberty, but seldom talk about perimenopause and menopause," says , author of . Stoler recommends self-care and a healthy lifestyle to combat the worst of it.

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Mental health

As women age, they are more likely to develop mental health issues than men. "Anxiety, , Alzheimer's, and cognitive decline are most common," Dr. Gaither says. There are many reasons women are more likely to develop these mental health issues, but it's most likely due to the fluctuating hormone levels women experience during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.

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Vaginal dryness

Caused by low levels of estrogen from pre-menopause and menopause, is not only common during middle age but also after child birth. Although many women may feel embarrassed to talk about the issue, it's completely normal and there's an easy fix. Most OB/GYNs will recommend avoiding scented soaps. Prescription estrogen creams can also be used to treat it, so ask your doctor.

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Heavy periods

Although it sounds counterintuitive, are actually a sign of menopause. Your menstruation schedule may be a bit thrown off around this time, too, which can cause heavier bleeding some months over others.

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As women age they tend to lose bone density and strength, which can lead to . This is when bones become weak and brittle. It’s more common in women than men, which is why women in their 40s should seek medical help if they experience any symptoms.

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Sigh issues and hearing loss

As we age, it's inevitable that our vision and hearing will get worse. But this doesn't mean you will become deaf and blind. It just means you may need glasses for reading or possibly a hearing aid. Get your sight and hearing checked annually.

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Brain fog

Difficulty concentrating and cognition issues is another side effect of pre-menopause. have shown that women as young as their 40s can start to experience brain fog as a result of menopause. Although there isn't a magic pill to un-fog your brain, knowing it's not just you is comforting. Here are some more .

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Routine breast exams

"Starting at age 40 routine mammograms are a must!," Dr. Shepherd recommends. Catching any abnormalities early can save your life. If you have a family history of , ask your doctor about getting a mammogram, even if you're not 40.

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Routine pelvic exams

Dr. Shepherd, Dr. Taz, and Dr. Gaither all agree that routine pap smears are important, but even more so as women hit middle age. Pap smears screen for cervical cancer, and just like any cancer, early detection is key.

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Cardiovascular exams

Heart disease is the in the U.S., and your risk gets higher as you age. Aside from leading a healthy lifestyle, Dr. Gaither strongly recommends women in their 40s get cardio evaluations as well.

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Although they are recommended consistently for women over the age of 50, your 40s are a good time to start talking to your doctor about getting a colonoscopy, especially if you have a family history of or polyps.

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This is always important, but especially as we age and our may not be as strong, the is more important than ever.

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Bone density evaluations

Stoler recommends the DEXA Bone Density screening every 10 years starting at age 40. This is especially important if you show risk factors for osteoporosis or have often fracture bones.

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Thyroid exams

"Thyroid dysfunction is the most common hormonal imbalance in women," Dr. Shepherd explains. This is why she recommends getting screened routinely. Here are some more signs your .

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Blood pressure evaluations

Since hypertension and can creep up on you without you even realizing, Dr. Taz recommends blood pressure evaluations to all her patients in their 40s. "It's important to stay on top of signs and symptoms in our bodies," she explains.

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Hormone level measurements

Pre-menopause and menopause are a time full of hormonal ups and downs in women, so checking hormone levels routinely will help keep you on track. Hormone level measurements will give your doctor more insight into what may be bothering you.

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Complete lipid panel

This is also known as a cholesterol test and it's important in assessing your risk for heart disease, which increases as you age. It's usually part of a routine annual, but if your doctor doesn't mention it, make sure to ask to have one done.

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Mole assessments

Getting assessed is something you should do at any age, but as you enter your 40s, your risk for skin cancer increases due to the fact that you've had longer amounts of sun exposure. Long-term sun exposure is a risk factor for skin cancer.

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