30 Health Issues Every Woman Over 30 Should Start Looking Out For
It's better to be prepared than caught off guard. Don't let these health issues sneak up on you.
While 30 is still young in the grand scheme of things, ask many people entering their fourth decade and they'll tell you it doesn't always feel that way. And while discovering the occasional fine line or gray hair may be a shock, those outward changes often pale in comparison to the more serious health issues that can start to creep up after the big 3-0. So, before you find yourself blindsided by a surprising ache or pain, learn which women's health issues might be right around the corner. And for other things you need to acknowledge as you age, check out 50 Signs of Poor Health Women Should Never Ignore.
You might want to be careful about your workouts as you enter your 30s, or you could find yourself dealing with painful tendinitis. As you get older, your tendons tend to become less elastic, often leading to injuries with overuse and repetitive movement. And for some ideas on how to improve your well-being, check out 100 Easy Ways to Be a (Much) Healthier Woman.
While many people think of asthma as a condition that primarily affects children, it's often a concern for the over-30 set, as well. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that the number of asthma-associated deaths increases dramatically in adults over 35.
Those long hours on your feet might just catch up to you by the time you hit your 30s. While most people will experience back pain at some point in their lives—in fact, it's estimated an astonishing 80 percent of adults—the onset of back pain tends to occur, for most people, in their 30s and 50s. And for more issues to be aware of for your next decade, check out 40 Things Every Woman Over 40 Should Know About Her Health.
Heart disease is the number one global killer among women, and its victims are getting younger by the year. In fact, according to review research published in Circulation, while the total number of heart attacks declined among adults between 35 and 75 years of age, the number of young women having heart attacks was on the rise—31 percent of women studied who had heart attacks were between 35 and 54. And for some fascinating facts about your ticker, check out 23 Amazing Things You Didn't Know About Your Heart.
Arthritis doesn't always happen late in life. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the average age of onset of arthritis occurs between ages 30 and 60, meaning numerous women in their 30s will find themselves sidelined by the condition.
Anxiety disorders affect 18.1 percent of the adult population in the United States, with many individuals over 30 dealing with the condition for the first time. And while anyone can experience nerves from time to time, women are particularly predisposed to clinical anxiety, with the condition affecting twice as many woman as men. And for more on how you can deal with your stress, check out This One Simple Exercise Can Help Ease Your Anxiety.
Though many people assume that osteoporosis mainly strikes older people, a loss of bone density is common among women starting in their 30s, according to Koushik Shaw, MD, of the Austin Urology Institute. "[It's] progressive with age, weight gain, as well as those who are underweight or have a family history of osteoporosis," she says. To help combat the condition, get a lot of vitamin D, calcium supplements, and weight-bearing exercise.
While the threat of osteoporosis may be scary enough on its own, women over 30 should be on the lookout for one of its more damaging symptoms: broken bones.
"Losing bone density can lead to osteoporosis, a disease in which the density and quality of bones are reduced putting people at heightened risk of fractures," says Niket Sonpal, MD, a New York-based internist and gastroenterologist and adjunct professor at Touro College. Sonpal recommends getting a bone density scan to check how your bone health measures up.
Reduced metabolic rate
That fast metabolism you enjoyed in your teens and 20s might just have flown the coop by the time you're in your 30s. "During the college years, many people are able to eat whatever they want and barely gain weight thanks to a super effective metabolism. Regardless of whether your metabolism is fast or just average for your age, it will slow down," says Sonpal.
"In your 30s, this can translate in slight weight gain depending on your fitness activity and adapted diet." Fortunately, you can help boost your metabolism relatively easily: "By exercising regularly, you can increase your metabolic rate, even during rest." And for some helpful ideas on how you can drop a few pounds the right way, check out 101 Ultimate Weight Loss Tips for Summer 2020.
Along with the weight gain that many women struggle with in their 30s comes another burden: an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. In fact, in 2015, there were nearly as many type 2 diabetes diagnoses among people under 44 as there were among people over 65. And for more helpful information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Think you can skip your flu shot because you're getting older? Think again. While young children and the elderly are most at risk for flu-related complications, adults are still at risk, with the number of deaths associated with influenza and pneumonia above the epidemic threshold for 16 consecutive weeks during the 2017-2018 flu season.
Women in their 30s should be diligent about scheduling their annual gynecological exams—experts attribute the recent decline in cervical cancer diagnoses to more American women being seen by gynecologists. However, the disease is still prevalent, with approximately 13,170 new cases diagnosed each year, the majority of them among women between 35 and 44.
While they can strike at any age, many women might find themselves dealing with an uptick in UTI symptoms over 30. "As women age, vaginal flora and pH changes, along with decreases in local estrogen levels," says Shaw, who notes that a sluggish digestion and diabetes—both of which are more likely to show up with age—can also increase your risk of UTIs.
Painful kidney stones might be on the horizon as you enter your 30s. And while the risk of these painful mineral and salt deposits increases after 30, there are a number of lifestyle factors that can contribute, too. "Things like dehydration, keto diets, diets high in colas, coffee, and tea can contribute to kidney stones," says Shaw, who recommends adding some high-citrate fruit, like lemons, to your daily water intake to mitigate your risk.
Incontinence isn't just an issue for the elderly. "Age, weight gain, multiple babies, genetics, and estrogen loss can contribute to weakening of the pelvic floor and musculature," says Shaw. "For women over 30, this can lead to urinary urgency, frequency, and incontinence with laughing, coughing, etc." Fortunately, weight loss, pelvic floor therapy, Kegels, and reducing caffeine and spicy food intake can all help—and if all else fails, surgery might just solve the problem.
If you've noticed some flutters in your chest after your 30th birthday, you're not imagining things. According to the Framingham Heart Study, the risk of atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat, increases with age, with a significant uptick around middle age.
High blood pressure
Even relatively young people should be cautious when it comes to their blood pressure readings. According to a review of the NIH's National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, 19 percent of individuals between 24 and 32 have high blood pressure, and the risk of developing the condition—a major contributor to heart disease—only increases with age.
Loss of muscle mass
It's not just your busy life and suddenly-sluggish metabolism contributing to that softer body in your 30s. "In your 30s, loss in muscle mass affects your metabolic rate," says Vince Sant, co-founder and lead trainer of V Shred. Fortunately, resistance training can help combat that lack of muscle tone. "You don't need to be a bodybuilder but maintaining muscle mass can help you as you age to maintain the structure of your body and lessen the decrease in metabolism caused by age."
Instead of a golden tan or cute freckles, sun exposure leads to a new, annoying skin issue in your 30s: hyperpigmentation, or the darkening of specific spots or areas of the skin. "Excessive ultraviolet exposure to the sun causes unstable melanocyte activity, which in turn causes hyperpigmentation in your 30s and onward," says board-certified Denver plastic surgeon and anti-aging expert Manish Shah, MD.
On the flip side of the hyperpigmentation coin, however, is that women in their 30s tend to experience hypopigmentation, or a lack of pigment in their skin, as well.
"After 30, there is also a natural decrease in melanocytes in the body, on average the decline is of about 6 to 8 percent. This leads to hypopigmentation which is the phenomenon that occurs when regions of the skin become lighter," says Shah. "Not only is this decrease in melanocytes connected to a decline in melanin, but also to reduced protection against harmful ultraviolet exposure which, as most know, can cause pre-malignant and malignant skin lesions."
With reduced natural protection against UV rays, women over 30 should also be on the lookout for new moles and skin growths, which tend to spring up more often at this age, Shah says. And while most moles are benign, it's important to know the ABCDEs when you're checking your body for new spots—asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolving—all of which may indicate that mole is something more serious.
If your hair isn't looking as lush in your 30s as it did in the decades prior, you're not alone. Hormonal fluctuations, including reduced estrogen levels, can contribute to hair loss, even among relatively young women.
Approximately 10 percent of women struggle with infertility, and that number continues to rise after 30. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, female fertility begins declining "gradually but significantly" at age 32, and the process speeds up by 37.
Just because you may get more serious about your relationships in your 30s doesn't mean you can be lax about your sexual health. STIs like HPV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia are on the rise among older adults in the U.S., and, left untreated, can lead to cancer, infertility, or even death.
It's not just your physical health you should be attending to in your 30s—your mental health matters, too. Sanam Hafeez, PsyD, a New York-based neuropsychologist and Columbia University faculty member, says that feelings of isolation during this period shouldn't go unchecked.
"For single women, they might be witnessing their friends getting married and starting a family. When this happens, sometimes the single woman feels left 'out in the cold' as her married mom friends have changing priorities. Often, this necessitates finding a new circle of friends. Make sure you take moments for yourself and, should your anxiety become overwhelming, seek the counsel of a professional."
Similarly, many women in this age range feel the pressure of their myriad responsibilities weighing a little too heavily on their shoulders. "We are looking at an age where no matter what you do you will have to be responsible for 'adulting,'" says Hafeez. "If you are a career woman, you have to deal with being financially independent, assessing your goals and your path. On the other hand, 30 might be a time where you've already started building a family and now you are responsible for a household, children and a spouse."
Keep that brushing and flossing routine going strong or you might find yourself dealing with the unpleasant side effects, like tooth loss, in your 30s. While a healthy adult mouth typically has 32 teeth, American adults between 20 and 34 average just 26.9 teeth, while those between 35 and 49 have 25.05.
Hormonal imbalances and estrogen loss don't just affect your fertility levels—they can affect your skin, too. One of the most common manifestations of this in your 30s? A dry scalp and the flakes to prove it.
If you're entering your 30s, it's time to start making those annual trips to the eye doctor a priority. According to the CDC, by 2050, an estimated 8.96 million Americans over age 40 are predicted to suffer from uncorrectable vision impairment.
Those blues you simply can't beat may become a permanent fixture in your 30s if you don't seek treatment. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the average age of onset for persistent depressive disorder is 31 years old, while major depressive disorder tends to pop up most often at 32.5 years.