For many women over 40, health problems can take a toll on their lifestyle, disease risks, and mental health. That's why you need a health checklist for women over 40!

Women have unique health risks and needs, which is why having a health checklist for women over 40 is a smart idea.

Knowing about the mistakes many women make and which health risks to watch for after 40 and beyond can significantly improve your quality of life.

Ready to dig in? Keep reading for our comprehensive health checklist for women over 40!

Think you're healthy and don't need this advice? You may be dangerously wrong. Start with these 7 health tests you can do at home!

The Health Checklist for Women Over 40: Risks to Watch Out For

Women and men share some of the same health risks, but women have unique needs and risk factors, especially women over 40.

Examples include:

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is common among women, especially with increasing age.

In fact, about 1 in 2 women over 50 breaks a bone because of osteoporosis, a chronic condition that causes weak, brittle bones.

The reason women are at greater risk is because of hormone changes, particularly low estrogen levels, that often occur naturally with increasing age.

There are numerous ways to combat osteoporosis in women over 40.

Eat plenty of calcium- and vitamin D-rich foods, such as low-fat milk, plant-based milk, and Greek yogurt.

Aim to consume about three servings of calcium-rich foods or plant-based alternatives every day.

Make sure your multivitamin supplement contains calcium and vitamin D, and ask your doctor about taking additional vitamin or mineral supplements if calcium or vitamin D levels in your body are low.

See a doctor regularly to monitor your bone health.

In the case of low bone density or if you already have osteoporosis, your provider might recommend you take medications to prevent bone fractures.

Heart Disease

Believe it or not, heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, leading to about 1 in 5 deaths in women in the United States.

Heart disease is also the number one killer among men in the U.S.

There are numerous ways you can lower your risk of developing heart disease.

Examples include getting regular exercise, maintaining healthy body weight, properly controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking.

Try increasing your fruit and vegetable intake, eating more nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.

Steering clear of excessive alcohol, sweets, fried foods, fatty meats, highly processed meats, and refined grains like white bread, white rice, regular pasta, and baked goods.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is common, affecting 1 in 8 women at some point during their lifetime.

To reduce the risk of breast cancer spreading to other parts of your body, which can be fatal, see your doctor regularly for breast cancer screening (especially in women over 40).

They can complete a manual breast exam in-office or recommend you undergo a mammogram to screen for early signs of breast cancer.

Lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer include getting regular exercise, avoiding excessive alcohol and smoking, eating healthy foods, avoiding radiation or pollution exposure, and breastfeeding.

Because genetic factors play a role in developing breast cancer, you can't always prevent breast cancer with a healthy lifestyle.

That's why routine breast cancer screening is important.

Some diagnostic tests your doctor might offer can determine your breast cancer risk based on your body's genetic makeup.

There’s no doubt about it, routine health screening for women saves lives. Here are 16 you need to have.

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Ovarian Cancer

About 1 in 78 women get ovarian cancer at some point during their lifetime.

While ovarian cancer is treatable when detected early, it's a deadly type of cancer.

The American Cancer Society reports that about 21,750 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and nearly 13,940 die from this type of cancer annually.

Ask your doctor if you're at risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Risk factors include previous use of powder containing talc, older age, and family history of ovarian cancer.

If you're at risk, your doctor can screen you for the disease and offer prevention strategies.

Signs and symptoms to watch out for include abdominal pain or swelling, bloating, weight loss, pelvic discomfort, frequent urination, and constipation.

However, the early stages of ovarian cancer usually don't cause any symptoms.

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is another health risk for women over 40.

It's often diagnosed in women between the ages of 35 and 44, with 50 being the average age of diagnosis.

Cervical cancer is highly treatable in its early stages.

Getting routine Pap tests in women over 40 can detect cervical cancer before it spreads to other areas of your body.

Contracting a sexually transmitted disease called human papillomavirus (HPV) appears to play a role in developing cervical cancer.

Other risk factors include having multiple sexual partners, a weak immune system, and smoking.

Early stages of cervical cancer often produce no symptoms.

Signs of advanced stages of the disease include irregular periods, bleeding after menopause or with sexual intercourse, unusual vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, and pain during sex.

The HPV vaccine can protect you against HPV and cervical cancer.

So can practicing safe sexual intercourse. Ask your doctor if you're a good candidate for a Pap test and/or the HPV vaccine.

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is common among men and women, as it's the most common type of cancer worldwide.

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, and it's often caused by sun exposure.

When detected early, however, melanoma and other forms of skin cancer are highly treatable.

To reduce your risk of skin cancer, protect your skin from the sun by using sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, staying in the shade, or wearing protective hats and clothing.

Screen your skin regularly and call your doctor if you notice new, growing, or changing moles.

Dietary supplements enhance what a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and other healthy lifestyle habits can do for you. Here are 21 of the best supplements for women over 40.

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Diabetes

Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.

Untreated diabetes is associated with numerous potentially-debilitating conditions like nerve damage, foot problems, vision issues, and kidney damage.

That's why getting screened for diabetes if you're at risk of developing it is important.

Diabetes risk factors include being overweight, lack of exercise, poor dietary habits, family history of diabetes, and having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.

If you have pre-diabetes and make healthy lifestyle changes, you can reverse the condition and reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

Eat fiber-rich foods, control your carbohydrate intake, avoid refined grains and added sugars, get regular exercise, and control your blood pressure and cholesterol.

See a doctor regularly for diabetes screening if you're at risk.

Thyroid Problems

Women over 40 are at risk of thyroid disorders.

In fact, one in eight women develops thyroid issues at some point during her lifetime.

The thyroid hormone helps regulate your body's metabolism.

Hyperthyroidism occurs when your body makes too much thyroid hormone and with hypothyroidism, your body makes too little thyroid hormone.

Low thyroid levels can cause weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, heavy menstrual bleeding, and feeling cold.

Too much thyroid production can lead to unplanned weight loss, increased sweating, muscle weakness, trembling, trouble sleeping, irregular heartbeats, and lighter or less frequent periods.

Thyroid problems are often genetic.

With proper treatment, however, your body can normalize thyroid hormone levels, eliminate unpleasant symptoms, and reduce the risk of complications.

A simple blood test can diagnose a thyroid hormone disorder.

Hormone Imbalances

In addition to thyroid hormone imbalance, other types of hormone problems in women might include changes in estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone.

Imbalanced hormones can cause weight gain, fatigue, changes in hair or muscle mass, increases in body fat, and other unpleasant side effects.

Having balanced hormones is the best way to look and feel your best.

As with diagnosing thyroid problems, a blood test lets your doctor know which hormones, if any, are too low or excessively high.

For some women, hormone replacement therapy is an option. Your doctor can let you know if you're a good candidate for it.

Eating foods high in estrogen can keep hormones balanced. Here are 17 healthy foods high in estrogen.

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Anemia

Women have higher iron requirements than men, at least until they reach menopause.

That's because women lose iron through blood when they menstruate.

For this reason, anemia is more common among women.

Iron-deficiency anemia can also occur in women over 40 who don't eat many iron-rich foods.

For example, if you follow a vegan-based diet your risk of iron deficiency increases.

Symptoms of anemia to watch out for include fatigue, weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness, headaches, pale skin, irregular heartbeats, and cold hands and feet.

Treatment for anemia often includes making dietary changes and taking nutritional supplements rich in iron.

Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety can cause serious problems in men and women.

Depression affects 1 in 8 women in the United States at some point during her lifetime, which is twice the rate of depression in men.

If constant sadness, hopelessness, anxiousness, thoughts of suicide, or extreme fear negatively affect your everyday life, see your doctor about ways to combat these mental health challenges.

Lifestyle habits that may help include getting regular exercise, achieving a healthy body weight, eating nutritious foods, having a strong social support network, getting plenty of sleep, and trying stress-relieving strategies.

Your doctor might recommend you undergo individual, family, or group counseling or take medications to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Obesity

Obesity is a common health concern among children and adults in the United States.

In fact, nearly 40% of adults in the U.S. are classified as obese, putting them at risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other chronic conditions.

If you struggle to get excess weight off, consider joining an organized weight loss program specifically designed for women of all ages (especially women over 40).

The Fit Mother Project 30X (FF30X) offers personalized meal and menu plans, fat-burning workouts, motivational support, and more to increase the chance of reaching your goal weight without spending hours in the gym.

Sign up for the Fit Mother Project free meal plan and workout to get started with effective weight loss today.

In this video, we give you the specific solutions on the best weight loss diet for busy women, including the best foods to eat, what to avoid, meals to make, and the meal-time schedule that can keep things simple and sustainable for you and your family.

The Health Checklist for Women Over 40: Mistakes to Avoid

Common mistakes many women over 40 make regarding their health and wellness include:

Not Getting Enough Sleep

Not sleeping enough can contribute to numerous health problems in women.

Sleep insufficiency appears to alter hormone levels within your body, contributing to increases in appetite, eating extra calories, and low energy levels.

Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night if possible.

These 7 tips will improve your sleeping habits, helping you to wake up feeling well-rested in the morning.

Skipping Routine Health Screenings

By skipping routine doctor's visits, your provider might miss minor health problems that can turn serious if they're left untreated.

Schedule yearly physical exams with your provider.

Book more frequent doctor's visits if you experience new or unusual symptoms, are at risk of an illness or disease, or your provider recommends it.

Health screenings allow your doctor to detect hormone problems associated with unwanted weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart problems, and more.

Fad Dieting

Fad diets, such as very low-calorie or very low-carb diets, can lead to rapid weight loss.

However, following restrictive meal plans isn't usually sustainable or healthy long term.

To reach your goal weight and maintain it for life, while keeping energy levels high and avoiding nutritional deficiencies, choose the Fit Mother Project or another well-balanced weight-loss program designed with the needs of women over 40 in mind.

Choosing the Wrong Foods

Not choosing healthy foods is a common concern among women over 40.

Unhealthy choices can add unnecessary calories and prevent you from achieving a desirable weight.

Avoid refined grains (white bread and white rice), baked goods, regular and diet sodas, sweets, fried foods, processed meats, and fatty cuts of red meat.

Choose fiber-rich, plant-based foods whenever possible to achieve optimal health.

Pick vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Add chicken, fish, shrimp, tofu, eggs, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, protein shakes, or other protein-rich foods (plus heart-healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, olives, and hummus) to boost satiety and help better control your total calorie intake.

Not sure if that health food is ACTUALLY healthy? This video will teach you how to read nutrition labels properly.

Not Taking Time for Yourself

If you prioritize your husband, children, or other family members over your own needs, don't let your health suffer because of it.

Ask friends or family members for support to ensure you have time to get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, and attend routine doctor's visits.

If you're not healthy, taking care of loved ones is difficult.

When you're ready to take the next step toward better health, sign up for the Fit Mother Project (designed for women over 40) to get and stay healthy for life!

Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, Registered Dietician, Licenced Dietician

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on a health checklist for women over 40.

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