There’s a lot to like about being in your 40s.
I’ve reassured several female 39-year-olds who were anxious about a looming birthday: For me, this is the decade where I’ve figured out who I am. It’s not so much about striving for things now; it’s more about enjoying them. I know what I’m good at, and who my friends are. I’ve learned what matters to me, and how not to worry about the rest. I have some wrinkles and gray hairs, but I’ve earned them.
For our bodies, well, it’s a different story. There are the aches and sags we all dread coming with age, but there’s a lot that we don’t know to expect. For instance, I hadn’t heard the term “perimenopause” and had no idea that the change could start as early as 10 years before you actually stop menstruating. It was rough going before I figured out that my symptoms—which were like PMS but less predictable and more extreme—were the beginning of a process, and not just me losing my mind.
It wasn’t something I found hard to talk about; there were just questions I didn’t know to ask. There are also other issues we face as we get older that feel more embarrassing, or scary, and that we actively avoid discussing with our friends, and sometimes even our doctors. And so we created “The Vagina Dialogues,” a collection of stories about women’s health that aims to offer both information and the opportunity to talk about things like perimenopause, hair loss, heart disease (which is still being misdiagnosed in women), vaginal prolapse, incontinence, and more.
Fun, right? Of course not, but it’s not so bad. So forge ahead, and let me know if you have any advice about heading into your 50s!