Ageing and Hormones: Understanding How Hormones Influence Female Health After 40

Posted in , , , by Echelon Health

For many women, hormonal changes and fluctuations are a regular part of life – from periods to pregnancy to perimenopause.

But it’s not just your younger years that are affected by the ups and downs of hormones. As women transition into their 40s and beyond, the landscape of their health and wellbeing undergoes significant changes. One of the most pivotal factors in this transformation? The shifting balance of hormones.

Understanding how hormones influence female health after 40 is essential for navigating this stage of life with vitality and confidence. In this blog post, we explore your hormones’ impact on your health after you turn 40. We’ll dive into the changes you’ll go through, hormonal imbalances, perimenopause and menopause, so you fully understand how your hormones influence your body as you age.

What hormonal changes will I go through after 40?

In your 40s, you will likely be either in menopause or going through perimenopause. Your oestrogen and progesterone levels begin to drop, causing several symptoms that can interfere with your daily life. 

Oestrogen and progesterone are two main hormones in your body that help regulate your ovaries and menstrual cycle. Oestrogen also plays a role in your bones’ health and strength.

Hormone imbalances in women

Hormones play a vital role in women’s bodies, regulating everything from mood to metabolism. However, as you approach 40 and beyond, your hormones face significant disruptions that can lead to imbalances. 

The main hormones that change as you age are oestrogen, progesterone, thyroid and cortisol. When these hormones are balanced, you’ll feel at your best, and your body will function as it should. However, your body changes when you’re over 40, your hormones fluctuate, and various symptoms can occur. 

Thyroid disorders are more common in women over 40 and can cause a number of different symptoms. Hypothyroidism can happen when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. This lack of hormones can cause you to feel fatigued, gain weight, and experience low moods and depression. 

On the other hand, your thyroid can become overactive (hyperthyroidism). When your thyroid gland produces too many hormones, you may experience weight loss, anxiety and heart palpitations. 

Cortisol is the primary stress hormone. Too much of it can lead to cortisol dysregulation, which can cause symptoms like weight gain, insomnia and a weakened immune system. Women over 40 may be at a higher risk of higher cortisol levels due to stress caused by other hormonal changes like perimenopause. 

Decreasing oestrogen levels cause perimenopause symptoms like hot flushes, insomnia, anxiety and low mood. These symptoms can make you feel more stressed than usual, having a knock-on effect on your cortisol levels and causing your hormones to become even more imbalanced – a vicious cycle. 

Perimenopause: impactful hormonal changes

In your 30s, your fertility levels naturally decrease as your hormone levels begin to change. As you enter your 40s, your body begins to move into a perimenopausal phase. 

During perimenopause, your ovaries will slowly start to release less oestrogen and the fluctuations in your hormones can be significant. These changes can often cause unpredictable physical and emotional symptoms. 

Hot flushes and night sweats are common during perimenopause, as well as heart palpitations, insomnia and drastic mood swings. We can attribute most perimenopause symptoms to hormonal changes. But lower oestrogen can also increase your risk of osteoporosis – your bone density decreases and causes bones to become prone to fractures. 

Perimenopause is one of the most impactful hormonal changes you can go through over 40. 

Menopause: how does it affect my body in the long term?

Menopause is when you have not had a period for over 12 months. It marks the end of your reproductive years. You may still experience some of the symptoms you had during perimenopause, but they should settle down as your hormones stop fluctuating. 

Vaginal dryness is a common symptom during perimenopause and menopause. Thinning vaginal walls and decreased lubrication from lower oestrogen levels causes dryness. Vaginal dryness can lead to discomfort during sex and elevate your risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs). 

However, menopause can have a long-term effect on your body. As we mentioned above, your risk of osteoporosis increases in perimenopause and remains so in menopause. Women with osteoporosis may experience fractures more commonly and easily, especially in their wrists and hips. 

Another potential long-term effect of menopause is your heart health. Oestrogen is vital in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and your blood vessels’ function. As your oestrogen levels decrease, your risk of high cholesterol and reduced function of blood vessels rises. After menopause, your risk of cardiovascular disease increases because of this hormonal change. 

Weight management can also be more challenging after menopause. Metabolic changes in your body and shifts in its composition can increase abdominal fat, putting you at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Strategies for managing female health after 40

Although there are many hormonal changes and long-term effects for women over 40, you can adopt strategies to manage them effectively.   

Hormone replacement therapy: what is it and how can it help?

Sometimes, hormonal imbalances need medical intervention in the form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Doctors commonly prescribe HRT to help manage perimenopause and menopause symptoms. 

Available as creams, gels, patches, tablets and injections, HRT contains either oestrogen and progesterone or progesterone only to balance your hormone levels and reduce symptoms. 

Weight management

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle in your 40s is essential for long-term health. 

Although you cannot stop hormonal changes, you can help alleviate the symptoms they cause by eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly. Doing so may support your bone density and cardiovascular function, too.

Mind-body connection

Your mind and body work together to support overall wellbeing, so make sure you put energy into looking after your emotional wellbeing. 

Engaging in activities like yoga and meditation may help your mental health and reduce feelings of anxiety or low mood. Try to keep up with hobbies, connect with loved ones and take time for yourself so that you can focus on your mind-body connection. 

Health checks

Regular health checks once you’re over 40 can help detect potential problems early. 

Preventative health checks screen for numerous conditions, including osteoporosis, helping you receive the treatment you need sooner rather than later. 

You also receive personalised lifestyle change advice to make healthy choices that benefit female health. 

Prioritise your female health with Echelon Health

When you turn forty years old, it is highly suggested that you get fully comprehensive health assessment which includes an in-depth look at your hormones too. This exam is available at Echelon Health as a component of the Platinum Assessment.

At Echelon Health we understand that everyone wants to live a long and healthy life. Unfortunately, a lot of us will not recognise that something is wrong until symptoms become noticeable.

However, thanks to the new technology in MRI, CT and Ultrasound preventive health assessments are carried out with precision never seen before. They can detect and discover many diseases at their earliest stage.

Many diseases are highly preventable in a lot of cases if caught early enough; Echelon Health screens for and detects up to 92% and 95% of diseases that lead to premature death among men and women respectively.

Preventive Health Assessments are important even if you are symptom-free. At Echelon Health we offer many packages, including our fully comprehensive Platinum Assessment in which the following tests are performed:

  • Medical Questionnaire & Pre-Assessment
  • Blood Tests
  • ECG
  • CT Aorta
  • CT Heart
  • CT Coronary Angiogram
  • CT Chest
  • CT Pelvis
  • CT Virtual Colonoscopy
  • CT Bone Density
  • EOS
  • CT Upright Skeleton
  • MRI Brain
  • MRI Cerebral Artery Angiogram
  • MRI Carotid Artery Angiogram
  • MRI Prostate
  • Ultrasound Thyroid
  • Ultrasound Testes/ Ovaries
  • Digital Mammogram
  • Full Body Mole Screen
  • Final Consultation

If you have any questions contact our team or check out our brochure for more information on all the health assessments we offer!