By Laura Lifshitz
The forties are the “me” decade. You awkwardly stumbled, twirled and partially danced through your twenties. Gained your footing and planted seeds for your life in your thirties. In your forties, the roots are growing and you stand tall.
But the decade doesn’t come without its bumps and bruises, of course.
I’m not a doctor or therapist, so I can’t offer any medical advice, and I know that everyone will have a different experience. But the forties may bring about some of these changes for you whether emotionally, or physically.
Why share? Well, not every woman is open about what life is really like in your forties. Not many people want to chat about their weird periods or spontaneous anxiety or moods. How many ladies feel like dishing about those heavy periods or, incredibly light and easy ones they never thought they would have? And even if they do want to dish about it, some women don’t even realize that what they’re experiencing is normal and not uncommon at all!
Here are 6 changes you may go through during your forties. Some of these changes are physical and other changes, situational or emotional adjustments you may make once you hit the big 4-0.
1. Your Period Is a Shady Bastard or Complete Angel
I never had heavy periods—not a day in my life— until my forties.
One day I am standing up and then—the heavy, heavy bleeding comes that I can feel …ugh.
I was terrified. Since the day I got my period, my cycles have always been relatively easy and typical cycles. I never had this type of bleeding before. I told my OBGYN who told me it was most likely due to hormones, and then an ultrasound revealed a massive fibroid.
The worst, of course, is the heavy bleeding that comes along with stomach pain. That’s also due to fibroids, something many women may have due to hormonal changes and other factors. But prior to my forties, I never had a fibroid. I had a cyst here or there on my ovaries, but not a fibroid.
On the flip side, I’ve had periods slink in and out of the month like a booty call doing the walk of shame. I noticed it was there, acknowledged my period and in a flash (two days), it was over.
The devil and the angel.
For me, my cycles are still very regular and always come—but many women hit times in their forties where their period may be erratic due to perimenopause.
If any of this sounds familiar to you—welcome to the forties! It’s all normal. Well, relatively.
2. PMS Can Be Brutal & You Can Be Emotional Other Times of The Month, Too!
Man, I can basically count down the days my period will start based on my moods. I have always had PMS, but the forties brings about a more wicked and brooding PMS than ever before.
I can feel really awful and in despair and the next day—like a total rock star as soon as my period starts. I swear, it’s like someone turned on the “sad” button before it begins and then as my period gets ready to roll, the “happy button.”
The good news is I know why I am feeling blue and able to chalk it up to hormones. I know the next day will be better, and it always is.
Some of my friends in their forties also find themselves very emotional (more than ever before) during all times of the month. It’s not unusual to feel those tears coming or bursts of irritability according to my crew of ladies.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, don’t check yourself into the psych ward. Just know it’s those forties changes and hold your head high.
3. You’ll Feel The Urge to Conquer Every Life Dream in Two Months
Call it a midlife crisis but, you will suddenly feel time nipping at your heels like a nasty little Chihuahua.
That goal to travel to Iceland—on your list and done.
That goal to learn Cantonese and join a choir—also done.
If you feel completely panicked by time and also, so motivated that you are killing every possible life dream you ever had, you’re most likely in your forties. I see a ton of my lady friends doing things that always wanted to or, facing their fears … all in their forties.
This is an amazing thing, but the panic and realization that you’ve hit that sort of midpoint in life is also hard and scary. Panicking isn’t much fun, but reaching goals is amazing!
4. You May Get Super Horny—Or May Not Be at All…
There’s a lot of chatter about how your interest in sex may decline due to hormones, but there is also a lot of whispering about women who are getting more turned on and taking risks in their forties.
Perhaps those urges and risks all ties into the theory I listed prior, that time is running wild, but if you experience a change in sexual desire whether for more or less sex—or a cycle between both, it’s all good.
Really. Unless it’s impacting your relationship.
5. You May Get Weird Hairs, Strange Moods, Bad Memory or Random Health Stuff
You didn’t use to have hair there, did you?
If you sprout random hairs, you’re either a witch or in your forties. You decide.
I personally like the idea of being a witch in her forties, but it’s all good either way.
Let’s not forget the random space outs where suddenly, you can’t remember a damn thing about your kid’s homework assignment, but you can remember the words to Samantha Fox’s “Naughty Girls Need Love, Too” song. See previous point.
These memory glitches are also, hormonal and a part of aging. Yeah, aging (sarcasm voice.)
Then, there are the random health things that appear– hello, joint pain or chronic bladder issues or whatever else it might be.
For me, my forties brought about some random anxiety triggers, like bridges, that I never had before. Again … maybe it all goes back to the feeling like time is slipping away from us.
6. You May Feel Really Nostalgic. A Lot
Did you weep a bit when you saw New Kids on the Block was touring with Debbie Gibson, Salt N’ Pepa, Tiffany and more?
Did you squeal like a teen and also, sob, when you heard 90210 was coming back?
Do you feel the urge to call family members or visit old photos frequently?
Hello, forties nostalgia!
You can thank that midlife crisis for this, not to mention the fact that many of us are watching our parents and families grow older or perhaps, passing away. This time of our life is ripe for nostalgia and will most likely linger on for the rest of our years.
The 40’s is a great decade full of confidence, charisma and accomplishments, but it certainly has its downs as well. Every part of our life comes with unique challenges though, so embrace the good, deal with the bad and keep smiling!
About the Author
Laura Lifshitz is a pint-sized, battery-operated writer, comedienne, single mother and chocolate fanatic. A former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate, you can find her work in many places, like the New York Times, DivorceForce, Mom.Me, Women’s Health, Worthy, Working Mother and numerous other sites. Follow her on Facebook and her own website, frommtvtomommy.com.