Right from the day she is born till the day she breathes her last, a girl’s body and psyche encounters numerous changes. The changes are not only related to ageing but also come with the various important events that she and her body experiences in its lifetime. Be it pains of adolescence and menstruation or the abrupt physical and emotional changes caused by pregnancy and in the later years the onset of menopause, the hormones, their levels and flows alter to maintain a balance. A bit of emotional and physical support from the family and friends could just make the transition easier and comfortable for the woman.
Hormones are nothing but messenger molecules for thoughts and emotions and awareness about how they change our lives and affect our emotions can enable us to minimise the negative influences of fluctuating hormones and enhance the positive ones.
The teenage changes
The very first changes in a lady start showing in her teenage when the hormones begin to kick.
At this stage, a combination of the hormones estrogen and testosterone contribute to the development of libido or sex drive. The fluctuations and chemical imbalances in the brain result in intense mood swings.
Irregular periods are common, as are acne and hair fall. Water retention, irritability and food cravings could also be seen as the results of fluctuating hormones at this age. Some teen girls are also prone to disease like PCOD or polycystic ovarian syndrome which causes excessive production of the male hormone testosterone thereby aggravating acne and excessive hair growth.
Advice: Teenage mood swings should be dealt with calmly. Adolescents should eat a balanced diet with whole grains and vitamin B6. Caffeine and salty foods must be avoided. A regular exercise regimen is also essential to help “let off steam”.
Changes in the woman in her 20s
By the time a woman reaches her twenties, she is at her hormonal peak. Profound changes occur in the quality of her skin, hair and general physical appearance. The hormonal changes in this age stimulate bone and muscle production, synchronizes heart function, washes away cholesterol deposits from the arteries and maintain the metabolic rate at a high level.
Pregnancy related changes
With pregnancy, a woman’s hormones change dramatically. New hormones are produced.
Uterine fibroid tumors, irregular and/or heavy bleeding, endometriosis, polycystic ovaries, a suppressed immune function, early menopause, accelerated ageing, and increased risk of disease are the likely results of hormonal imbalances during this period. PCOD further results in weight gain and metabolic disorders. Aggressive mood swings are also seen.
Advice: Careful evaluation of the family history and regular gynecological checkups is the key to detecting any imbalance. Timely pregnancy (ideally till 25), regular exercises and balanced diet are the key factors to a healthy body in the age of 20s. Maintaining an ideal weight to lessen problems for later years is advisable.
Changes in the woman in her 30s
As women move into their 30s, hormonal level begin to fall, which means a gradual fall in fertility potential. Metabolism begins to slow down. The percentage of lean muscle tissue in the body decreases and fat increases.
This is the stage when women must be exercising as they are bound to gain weight due slowing metabolism. While you are still young, some wrinkles may start appearing around the eyes and mouth as the rate of facial skin-cell renewal starts to slow down. Exfoliating may help here.
Advice: Women in their 30s must visit a gynecologist for regular check-ups.
Changes in the woman in her 40s and beyond
The beginning of menopause symptoms may start showing as early as the late 30s or early 40s. At menopause, a woman must contend with associated changes in her cardiovascular system, bones, and central nervous system. Besides heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, skin cancer, and cataracts and glaucoma, women between the ages of 45 and 65 must also be concerned with their susceptibility to breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Advice: After 30, bones begin to lose calcium and may develop osteoporosis. To avoid it, women should take at least 1500 mg. calcium a day. Vitamin D helps bones absorb calcium and vitamin C helps absorb calcium and iron to maintain tissues, bones and teeth. Women above 40 must undergo breast and rectal exams every year.
(Photo Credit: Nitin Kapoor)