By Sarah Jio
Wrinkles, hot flashes and a few extra gray hairs-sure, you can probably make a list of the things that frustrate you about middle age, but don't forget the positive things, too. The autumn season of life brings its own bounty of benefits that you may not have considered, such as...
Women who have dealt with adult acne throughout their life may find that middle age brings an unexpected benefit: clear, glowing skin. "Menstruation triggers production of the hormone androgen, which causes the body's oil glands to kick into overdrive," says Tina Groat, MD, National Medical Director of the Women's Health Line of Service for UnitedHealthcare. But in middle age, she says, these hormone levels gradually even out and leave skin less prone to breakouts. "Women who experience breakouts of acne right before or during their monthly period often find that their skin clears up during middle age." Photo by iStockphoto.
Perhaps one of the most surprising things about middle age, says Diana Fletcher, a life coach based in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, is the boost of confidence and self-assurance that comes in the later years. "In my practice, I see that women in their late 40s and 50s have decided that they are not going to just accept things the way they used to anymore," says Fletcher. "They want to change the way they react, the way they view life-and they are ready to make new choices. They want to face issues head-on and not be afraid to confront the negative in themselves and others." The best part about this newfound confidence, she says, is the energy and drive it gives women to pursue things they never thought possible. "At this stage in life, many women realize they are still young enough to go after another degree, another job, another way of living to make themselves happy." Photo by iStockphoto.
Bye-Bye to PMS
While the thought of menopause can be concerning to women, there are positive aspects to the changes in your body. According to the American College of Gynecology, as many as 85 percent of women experience one or more PMS symptoms each month, but after menopause, say hello to a life without period-related cramping, mood swings and irritability. "This means women no longer experience discomfort caused by menstruation, and they can also say goodbye to carrying around tampons and pads," says Dr. Groat. Photo by Shutterstock.
You Can Wash Your Hair Less Often
If greasy, oily hair was a malady of your youth, the problem might vanish with middle age. "Glands below the skin become less active during middle age," says Dr. Groat. "The scalp therefore accumulates less oil and sweat. This means women in this age group can benefit from washing their hair less often, and can enjoy the look and feel of 'just washed' hair for longer. This can add up to big savings in time, effort and even money on hair-care products like shampoo and conditioner." Photo by iStockphoto.
Sex Without Fear of Pregnancy
While some women in their 60s made headlines this year when they became late-in-life mothers via in vitro fertilization, having babies is probably the last thing most middle-aged women have on their mind. In fact, many women say that being able to enjoy sex without the fear of pregnancy opens them up to greater pleasure and satisfaction in the bedroom, according to the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation. Photo by Shutterstock.
Uterine Fibroids Shrink
Fibroids, which can grow as a result of higher estrogen levels, are often associated with pain, bleeding and bladder pressure. But good news for postmenopausal women: When estrogen levels decline, fibroids stop growing entirely and even tend to shrink. "In the years leading up to menopause, fibroids are soaking in an estrogen bath as menstrual cycles deteriorate, often leading to profound growth spurts," says Bruce McLucas, MD, an ob-gyn and professor at UCLA in Los Angeles. "Many women, but not all, will experience relief from their symptoms after the ovaries stop producing estrogen." Photo by iStockphoto.
More Time to Focus on Your Own Health
During their 20s and 30s, most women are so busy tending to kids, family and career needs that life can seem exhausting, and fitting in time for self-care-even vital health care-can sometimes feel impossible. Middle age can solve that, explains Los Angeles-based psychologist Talia Witowski. "Many women find that later in life, when the kids are grown and out of the house, they finally have time for self-discovery and self-care," she says. Witowski, who specializes in weight-loss issues, believes that getting fit and healthy comes easier as a woman ages. "By taking self-caring actions such as writing and meditation and using other tools we offer, women start to make the life changes necessary for healthy eating, living and feeling." Photo by Shutterstock.
Fewer Hormone-Induced Migraines
According to research, one of the most common causes of migraine headaches in women is menstruation. "The fluctuation of women's hormone levels associated with the menstrual cycle is a leading cause of migraines, which can cause a host of unpleasant side effects, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and sensitivity to light," explains Dr. Groat. "The frequency of migraines increases for many women in the hours before and after the menstrual period begins or ends, when estrogen levels typically drop." But middle age may eliminate such debilitating migraines. During this time in a woman's life, says Dr. Groat, "hormone levels gradually level out, and many female migraine sufferers experience fewer hormone-induced headaches. This means that middle-aged women can enjoy more activities with worrying about migraine pain-no matter what time of the month it is." Photo by iStockphoto.
Improved Brain Function
Sure, you may forget your keys more often, but the latest research indicates that, as with a fine wine, age might actually be good for your brain. "In her book , Barbara Strauch cites research that shows that in our middle years-ages 40 to 65-we are better at solving problems because we can think more creatively and conceptualize issues in a more comprehensive manner," says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, MS, PT, a psychologist in private practice in Wexford, Pennsylvania. "Our wisdom from years of experience helps us be more intuitive so we can quickly and more accurately size up people and situations. One study looking at pilots found that those ages 40 to 69 were better than their younger counterparts at avoiding traffic collisions using simulators." Photo by Shutterstock.
Sarah Jio is the health and fitness blogger for Glamour.com. Visit her blog, Vitamin G.
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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