Turning 40 is a milestone worth celebrating. But at 40, the body does begin to change in ways you may not have been expecting. At 40, your body is not quite the resilient, high-metabolism machine that it was a decade or two prior. In fact, as you age, there may be moments where you don’t recognize your body at all. Here are all the ways your body starts changing after 40:
1. You may become more forgetful
If you find that you’ve walked into a room and can’t remember why, or suddenly forget the name of someone close to you for a brief minute, you are not alone. According to researchers, your memory’s sharpness and sense of understanding can start to decrease at just 45 years old. A 2012 study found that after you turn 45, your memory begins to take a downturn. It was once thought this didn’t happen until age 60. But don’t worry too much, having a “senior moment” is common.
2. Your hair will start falling out
Research suggests that your hair will likely start thinning after 40. But it’s important to note that thinning hair typically depends on genetics. However, if you notice some thinning after 40, don’t be alarmed. It’s completely normal to start losing hair as you get older.
3. Gray hair will become more common
Besides some hair thinning, you may notice hair color changing, too. Gray hairs are nearly inevitable as you age, and they can show themselves as early as your 20s. But you may really start to notice those grays after 40. The older you get, the grayer you’ll get, but don’t concern yourself too much with it. You can always dye your hair or try special shampoos or conditioners to help fight off the color change.
4. For women, hot flashes become more common
It’s that time in your life when you may begin to experience your first hot flashes. And while the average age for menopause is 51, you can get hot flashes as early as 10 years before menopause. If you experience one, don’t be surprised, but it might not mean that menopause is around the corner. You could still have many years before that happens.
5. Sex might be harder than it once was
For both men and women, sex may not be as easy as it once was. As you get older, your hormone levels start to decline. This means you may not be ready to go at a moment’s notice. For men, you may have to look into male enhancement drugs, such as Viagra. And for women, dryness can occur, so you should talk to your doctor about the best way to prevent that. But a few bumps in the road doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy intimacy.
6. Your sex drive may become lower than it used to be
If you and your partner are having trouble with sex, it may cause a loss of libido. Plus, after 40, it’s common for the sex drive to die down a bit. Stress is a major factor that can contribute to low libido, and if you’re stressed at work (which is common at this age), you may have less of a desire to be intimate. According to WebMD, women are twice as likely to experience low libido compared to men, but it still happens to men and women, especially as you age.
7. It’s more difficult to lose weight
As you age, your metabolism slows down. And age 40 is when you might really start to notice how much slower it is. The pounds become easier to gain and harder to shed. Prevention suggests tips for losing weight after 40: Focus on nutrients, don’t skip meals, and eat fewer calories but more often. When that metabolism starts to slow, eating large meals may mean gaining more weight than you’d like, but it doesn’t mean you can’t lose it.
When you’re 40 or older, your face doesn’t have the same healthy glow it may have had when you were 20. That’s because the fat pads in the face diminish, leaving the skin looking saggy. Plus, the skin gets drier than it once was, which can make wrinkles look more defined. It’s important to keep skin moisturized in order to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Some doctors also recommend fillers, but make sure to find a reliable doctor who can do them correctly.
9. You can’t drink as much alcohol as you once could
There are several reasons your ability to handle alcohol may be affected in your 40s. As you age, you tend to drink less frequently, which lowers your tolerance. Plus, your liver isn’t what it once was, so metabolizing all of that alcohol becomes more difficult as you age. And then there’s the possibility that you may be taking more medications than you once did. Medications can lead to difficulty in metabolizing alcohol, depending on the drug.
10. You’re more likely to get certain cancers
As you get older, the health risks become more serious. Once you hit 40, certain cancers have a greater chance of appearing. Breast cancer risk increases once you turn 40, so you should get yearly mammograms to make sure everything looks good. Also, most cases of cancer are diagnosed in people over 50, but when you turn 40, you may want to talk to your doctor about what to expect down the road, such as testing for colon and prostate cancers.
11. You might notice the first signs of hearing loss
It may seem like a problem you don’t need to worry about for another 20 or 30 years, but actually, hearing loss can start to develop as early as your 40s. It depends how much strain your ears handled when you were younger. If you attended concerts frequently and were always blasting music, you might notice hearing loss at an earlier age than someone who did not listen to much loud music. But it’s not uncommon to find yourself a bit harder of hearing in your 40s.
12. Your sleep cycle may change
As you get older, your brain efficiency declines. And this can affect your sleep pattern. When you age, the brain produces less melatonin, which can make falling and staying asleep difficult. You may find yourself falling asleep on the couch more often or waking up in the middle of the night. And while serious sleep issues don’t normally start until your 50s or 60s, talk to your doctor if you notice any changes in your 40s, because it could be a sign of sleep difficulty down the road.
13. Your chances of having children (for both men and women) decreases
Fertility in both genders decreases after 40. For men, the quality of sperm decreases with age, and if a man is over 45, the woman has a greater chance of having a miscarriage. Women over 40 are half as likely to get pregnant or have a healthy baby than they were before age 32, according to yourfertility.org. And at age 30, women have a 20% chance of becoming pregnant in a given month. By age 40, it’s only 5%.
14. Your bladder could become “leaky”
For many women over 40, bladder incontinence is common. According to a study done on women between the ages of 42 and 64, more than 68% admitted to having bladder incontinence at least once per month. Most people associate the bladder leakage with menopause, but there is no evidence the two are related. Deterioration of certain muscles from childbirth may also contribute to the leakage.
15. Your teeth become less sensitive
When you hit your 40s, your teeth produce more dentin than they once did. This means that if you’ve struggled with sensitive teeth for most of your life, there is good news: More dentin means your teeth will feel less sensitive. See, some things do only get better with age. But it’s important to get dental checkups because with less sensitivity comes less knowledge of when something may be wrong with your teeth.
But there’s hope — and people shouldn’t give up when they start to feel down about their lives in middle age. Who knows what good things life has saved for you?