Health Risks and Medical Tests for Men in their 20s
It's never too early to be mindful about your health even at an early age. Men in their 20s are less likely to have a relationship with their doctors. Young people don't usually have to worry about health risks early in life, but issues like high blood pressure and pre-diabetes have few symptoms and may go unnoticed without regular checkups. This is a great time to make sure you have fewer health concerns later in life.
Here are some health risks and tips for men in their 20s:
Quick Health Tips for Men in their 20s
- Get regular STD tests, even if there are no symptoms.
- Use a condom with all sexual activities, including oral sex.
- Get a work-up from your doctor, including cholesterol, diabetes and blood pressure checks. This could include mental-health checks.
- Make sure your immunizations are current.
- Find out your family history of certain diseases, such as diabetes heart problems or high cholesterol.
- Don't skimp on sleep. Young adults aged 18 to 25 should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
- Try adding more fruits and vegetable to your diet.
- Stay active. Exercise helps keep testosterone up and helps with mental and physical health.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Men in their 20s are at a higher risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease than older men, according to the CDC. In part, this is because younger men are more sexually active and tend to engage in riskier behaviors. If you are sexually active it's best to get regular STD tests. STD rates are on the rise in the U.S., and in 2015 they reached their highest number ever.
Men aged 20 to 24 had the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea compared with other age groups in 2014. Gay and bisexual men have an even higher risk.
Although there are no major vaccines for STDs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a human papillomavirus vaccine in 2006. HPV is spread through sexual intercourse and can cause several kinds of genital warts, including several strains that are known to cause cancer, even in men. While doctors recommend people ages 12 to 26 get the vaccine, there are ongoing debates about the safety of Gardasil, Cervarix and other HPV vaccines. Men with weakened immune systems are more likely to get HPV.
Undiagnosed STDs can lead to worse and irreversible health problems such as infertility, chronic pain and increased risk for HIV. Doctors can treat most STDs with antibiotics. But, some antibiotics can cause serious side effects. For instance, studies link fluoroquinolones like Cipro (ciprofloxacin) and Levaquin (levofloxacin) to tendon damage, nerve damage and aortic aneurysms.
Stress and Mental Health
Men in their 20s may face a variety of stress-inducing situations for the first time. The first signs of severe mental illness may also appear in men at this age. Part of the reason for this is that the brain is still developing in the 20s. For example, doctors usually diagnose schizophrenia in men from their late teens to mid-20s. Depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder may also surface at this age. Depression is the most common, and 6 percent of young men are diagnosed with depression in their 20s.
Young men may take medication to treat mental disorders, but these may come with more health risks.
For example, doctors prescribe Risperdal (risperidone) for bi-polar disorder, ADHD and depression among other mental health concerns, but studies show it can lead to gynecomastia, growth of female breasts, in boys and young men. Abilify (aripiprazole) is another drug gaining popularity to treat a wide variety of mental issues. The FDA warned the drug may increase the risk of compulsive gambling, eating and sexual behaviors.
High Blood Pressure
Lifestyles of young men in their 20s might be more conducive for developing high blood pressure. For instance, stressful lifestyles and high alcohol consumption may contribute to high blood pressure, a measurement higher than 120/80 mm Hg.
Doctors link high blood pressure to heart disease, kidney disease and stroke, and usually treat it with lifestyle changes and medication. Some blood-pressure medications may potentially do more harm than good. One of the most popular high blood pressure drugs, Benicar (olmesartan), which doctors write more than 11 million prescriptions for each year, has been known to cause gastrointestinal problems such as drastic weight loss, chronic diarrhea, and stomach pain.
Testicular cancer can affect men of all ages, including infants, but roughly 50 percent of all cases are in men 20 to 34 years old. A man has a 1 in 263 chance of getting it in his lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society, and it can be deadly if not caught early. But, the 5-yerar survival rate is about 95 percent.
Boys and men may notice symptoms on their own, such as lumps in the testicle, swollen testicles, lower back or belly pain, breast growth and early puberty in boys. There is no standard screening test for testicular cancer, but most men and doctors feel the testis for lumps as a first step. Further tests, such as an ultrasound or surgery, may occur.
Melanoma Skin Cancer
Melanoma, or skin cancer, is the most common cancer in people under 30. But, some studies show young men are 55 percent more likely to die of the disease than women. In 2016 about 76,380 new melanomas will be diagnosed, 46,870 in men, according to the American Cancer Society. About 6,750 are expected to die of the disease.
College-aged men are more likely to binge drink and abuse prescription medications such as Adderall, Ritalin and opioid painkillers than their female counterparts, according to data gathered by the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future Project.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug addiction is a brain disease and it can increase the risk for a number of health problems including stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, lung disease and hepatitis.
Health Risks and Medical Tests for Men in their 30s
Men in their 30s have more responsibility than they did in their 20s, and they may also have less time to spend looking out for their health. Desk jobs and 40-hour-plus workweeks can put a strain on your physical and mental health. While the 30s is still a decade relatively low in risk for chronic health issues, there are still a few things to watch out for. Heart disease is one of the most important risks, but several other changes occur in a man's body in this decade of life.
Men in their 30s have a high risk of developing certain conditions, like:
Quick Health Tips for Men in their 30s
- 30-year-olds burn fewer calories than in their 20s. Watch portion sizes at meals and sugar and carbohydrate intake.
- Try more stretching and flexibility exercises as well as meditation for stress and decreased flexibility.
- Do more aerobic exercise, interval training techniques and strength training for heart health and healthy testosterone levels.
- Get checkups for lymphoma, prostate and testicular cancer.
- Keep an eye on cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
A number of risks for heart disease start to rise for men in their 30s. Cholesterol is more likely to increase and cause problems for men in their 30s. Blood pressure also begins to rise and fatty deposits may collect in the arteries. Like any other muscle, the heart can also lose some strength in this decade of life.
Heart disease is the number one killer of men in the U.S. For example, in 2013, 1 in every 4 men died of heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A sobering fact is that half of the men who died suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. This makes heart health very important for men in their 30s.
If you have slightly elevated cholesterol or blood pressure, get some advice from your doctor on how to best address it. If treatment involves medication, make sure you know the risks and side effects. For example, studies show statins like Lipitor (atorvastatin) have some hidden side effects such as muscle, liver and kidney problems. The FDA issued a drug safety alert for the blood pressure drug Benicar warning of gastrointestinal problems like severe diarrhea.
Stress and Mental Health
Stress ramps up with new responsibilities for men in their 30s. They may now have a family to look out for and increasingly long hours on the job. Also, studies show the "mid-life" crisis is real and begins to creep up in the 30s.
About 8 percent of men over 30 may suffer depression, and according to experts, men in their 30s may be at increased suicide risk. Health experts recommend physical activity, meditation and other types of stress reduction to help counteract this.
In some cases, doctors may recommend medication. It's important to be aware that many mental health drugs come with side effects. Abilify (aripiprazole) may increase compulsive behaviors such as gambling and sex addiction. SSRI antidepressants such as Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and Prozac (fluoxetine) may cause sexual dysfunction, decreased sexual desire and insomnia. Many of these drugs are also difficult to discontinue and cause withdrawal symptoms.
Obesity and Weight Gain
Men burn about 12 fewer calories a day for each year after 30, according to Men's Health magazine. This means men's metabolisms begin to slow down in their 30s, and they need to be more mindful of their diets and activity levels. This can be especially difficult if you have a desk job.
Weight gain can increase your risk for high blood pressure, cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes.
There are a number of medications for Type 2 diabetes, but several of them have serious side effects. For example, the FDA warned the SGLT2 inhibitor class of drugs, which includes Invokana (canagliflozin) and Farxiga (dapagliflozin), is linked to kidney problems and diabetic ketoacidosis.
After age 30, testosterone levels decrease at a rate of about one percent each year. This is just really a normal part of aging, but inactivity and extra weight can cause testosterone to dip even lower. Some symptoms of Cleveland Clinic.
Exercise and diet are the best ways to maintain hormonal health for most men. But, testosterone replacement therapy has become a multibillion-dollar industry in the U.S. Doctors caution that testosterone drugs such as AndroGel and Testim are overprescribed in men that are not clinically testosterone deficient. In addition, studies show testosterone replacement therapy drugs could affect heart health and are linked to stroke and heart attacks.
Bone density and muscle mass also begin to decrease for men in their 30s. Men may lose an average of six pounds of muscle over the course of ten years. A man's flexibility also decreases in his 30s.
Loss of bone density and muscle can increase the risk of injury. If you smoke, now is a good time to quit. Smoking can increase the loss of bone density.
A good solution is to work in more stretching exercises. Many men think yoga is just for women, but it can build strength and flexibility in men too. Strength training and a good diet can help retain muscle. Getting enough vitamin D and calcium can also help. Eat dark leafy greens and fruits such as oranges and figs. Fish and eggs are good source of vitamin D.
Just like men in their 20s, men in their 30s may not have too many cancer risks. But, testicular cancer remains a concern in the 30s, though the risk lowers towards age 40. Lymphoma, a cancer that affects the lymph nodes, risk also rises for men in their 30s. Men in general have a higher risk of the disease than women.
Swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, weight loss and low-grade fevers are symptoms of lymphoma.
Some drugs can increase the risk for certain cancers. For instance, the FDA linked the Type 2 diabetes drug Actos (pioglitazone) to bladder cancer. The agency issued a warning in 2016.
Health Risks and Medical Tests for Men in their 40s
The American Heart Association recommends people get their blood glucose level checked once every three years starting at age 45. Those with risk factors, such as obesity or a family history of diabetes, should screen blood glucose levels more frequently and/or begin younger. High glucose levels in the blood can lead to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, which can cause blindness, heart disease and stroke.
Here are some health risks and tips for men in their 40s:
Quick Health Tips for Men in their 40s
- Testosterone levels continue to decline. Diet and exercise can keep them close to normal.
- Men start experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED). Stress, medications, poor diet and lack of exercise may contribute to the problem.
- Heart disease remains a concern. Get regular checkups for blood pressure, cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes.
- Lymphoma, prostate and colon cancer risk ramps up. At-risk men should get screenings and look for symptoms.
- Doctors recommend getting your first eye exam at 40.
Men in their 40s may begin to experience symptoms of erectile dysfunction. About 40 percent of men in their 40s may experience ED, according to Dr. Tobias Kˆhler, chief of the Division of Male Infertility at Southern Illinois University.
Several issues contribute to ED. A common misconception is that low testosterone levels are to blame, according to Advanced Urological Care in New York. While testosterone may decrease in a man's 40s, increasing testosterone level does not increase erections.
Some underlying causes of ED include high blood pressure, poor circulation, high cholesterol, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking. ED is tied to heart health. If you are suffering any symptoms of ED, it may be time to get your cardiovascular health checked.
Men may talk to their doctors about increasingly popular testosterone replacement drugs such as AndroGel and Testim, but some studies show these drugs increase the risk for heart attacks and strokes. Viagra (sildenafil) is a popular drug to treat the symptoms of ED, but it does not treat the cause. Studies also link it to an increased risk of melanoma skin cancer.
Heart disease continues to be a risk factor for men in their 40s. Men develop heart disease a full 10 years before women. In their 40s, men have a few health conditions that can signal the beginnings of heart disease.
Stress, anger and anxiety increase heart health risks by restricting blood flow to the heart. Two hours following an anger outburst, your risk of heart attack is nearly five times greater, according to research cited by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Sleep apnea, a condition where you stop breathing during sleep for 10 seconds or longer, can also lead to heart problems because of lack of oxygen.
ED is often an indicator of potential heart problems. Men in their 40s who have problems with erections have an 80 percent risk of developing heart problems within 10 years, according to Johns Hopkins.
Untreated high cholesterol or blood pressure also increases risks for heart disease. If your doctor recommends medication to treat these issues, know the side effects. Studies show statins like Lipitor (atorvastatin) are linked to muscle, liver and kidney problems. The blood pressure drug Benicar (olmesartan) is linked to gastrointestinal problems like severe diarrhea.
With more stressors and possible life changes like loss of a job, family or spouse, a man in his 40s has more to worry about. Depression, anxiety and other mental health issues may compound in this decade of life.
Untreated, mental-health issues can affect other aspects of health and may lead to suicide. In fact, men aged 45 to 60 experienced a 43 percent increase in suicide deaths from 1997 to 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women, and white men are most at risk.
Loss of a job is one of the biggest reasons for depression among men. Because men's identity is often tied to their career, certain occupational groups have higher rates of suicide. For instance, men who work in farming, fishing and forestry and construction have the highest suicide rates.
At regular checkups, make sure you talk to your doctor about any symptoms of depression or anxiety. If you are considering medication, make sure you know the side effects of common antidepressants. SSRI antidepressants like Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and Prozac (fluoxetine) may cause agitation, headaches, difficulty reaching orgasm, insomnia and other sexual problems. Some may even increase suicidal thought and actions.
Type 2 Diabetes
Men are less likely to be active in their 40s and this may contribute to weight gain and Type 2 diabetes. Research indicates men have a greater risk of developing the disease than women. The National Institutes of Health recommends men aged 45 or older begin diabetes screenings at least once every three years. If you are overweight, screening should happen sooner and at more regular intervals.
Several medications for Type 2 diabetes may come with several side effects. For example, according to studies and FDA safety communications, the SGLT2 inhibitor class of drugs, which includes Invokana (canagliflozin) and Farxiga (dapagliflozin) may be linked to diabetic ketoacidosis, serious urinary tract infections that lead to blood infections and kidney injury.
Lymphoma, a cancer that affects the lymph nodes, continues to be a risk for men in their 40s. But in this decade of life, men also have to contend with two new cancer risks: colon cancer and prostate cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends screening for these cancers beginning in the 40s for men at high risk, those with a family history and diets high in red meat, high in fat and low in vegetable fiber.
Colon cancer begins in the intestine and starts as polyps, mushroom-shaped growths. Not all polyps are cancerous, however. One type of polyp called villous adenoma is the only one that may become a tumor. If you have inflammatory bowel disease or stomach issues, your risk is higher.
Prostate cancer is more common than colon cancer for men in their 40s. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men, after lung cancer. Nearly 40 percent of men aged 40 to 59 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Doctors will perform a rectal exam and a blood test to screen for this type of cancer.
In general, all the senses start to decline in this decade of life. Eyesight is not as sharp, hearing is weaker and your senses, including smell and taste, are reduced. Men in their 40s may typically notice an issue with close-range vision.
Experts recommend men get their first eye exam at age 40. Eye doctors can check for problems with no symptoms, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, said Dr. Andrew Schachat, director of clinical research and chairman at the Cleveland Clinic's Cole Eye Institute. Both of these issues are treatable, but diagnosis is important. Men with Type 2 diabetes may also have undiagnosed eye problems.
Health Risks and Medical Tests for Men in their 50s
By the time a man reaches 50, it's likely he'll notice more joint and muscle aches and a decrease in bone and muscle mass. Keeping up with checkups and keeping a healthy diet and exercise routine is more important in this decade to keep bones, muscles and the heart strong. Some cancer risks increase during this decade, and men should make sure they have the proper test and determine their risk.
Here are some health risks and tips for men in their 50s:
Quick Health Tips for Men in their 50s
- If you smoke, quit.
- Drink more water. In the 50s, the body is more likely to be dehydrated.
- Get regular cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar checks.
- Keep the mind active by learning something new.
- Perform weight-bearing exercises and strength training for strong bones and muscle.
- Get tested for prostate cancer.
- Doctors recommend getting a colonoscopy at 50.
If you had a diet high in sugar and fat, this is the decade you will notice the effects. Men's risk for heart will more dramatically increase in their 50s. If you have diabetes, your risk for heart problems is greater. Smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure all contribute to the risk. African American men have an even greater risk.
Hardening of the arteries, called atherosclerosis, starts when men are young. By the time they are 50, the risk is one in two of developing heart disease, according to Harvard Medical School. But, it isnít too late to clean up your diet and drop those extra pounds that might have creeped up in previous decades.
In the 50s, men might start to see the onset of osteoarthritis. Studies show low-impact exercise actually reduces the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis. For example, one 2016 study in the Journal of Rheumatology found patients with osteoarthritis who did swimming or cycling training just three times a week had improvement in pain and stiffness as well as increased quality of life.
Some men might consider getting knee or hip replacements. If you are considering getting a joint replacement, some implants might be more risky than others. The FDA linked metal-on-metal hip implants to kidney problems, cognitive problems, thyroid issues and bone and tissue death around the implant. This occurs because metal ions from the implants leak into the blood stream and nearby tissue.
Beginning in the later fifties, men's bodies retain less water. Younger men's bodies are made up of 61 percent water, while men in their 50s drop down to 54 percent. The sweat glands also start disappearing. This means overheating and heatstroke become more dangerous.
This makes proper hydration more important. Drink more water.
Muscle and Bone Health
Between age 50 and 80, men will lose about 35 percent of their muscle mass. By age 50, you also lose more bone than your body can replace. The National Institutes of Health recommend getting a test for osteoporosis in your 50s if you are at increased risk. Osteoporosis risks include smoking, low body weight, long-term steroid use and fracturing a bone after age 50.
Lifting weights and weight bearing aerobic exercise like walking can help reduce the risk. Some medications to treat osteoporosis and reduce risk of fractures in men include Prolia (denosumab) and Forteo (teriparatide). Prolia drugs may have serious side effects such as serious infections, thighbone fractures and jaw problems. Forteo may cause muscle pain, chest pain, esophageal problems, nausea and vomiting. It also has a black box warning for malignant bone tumors.
Colorectal cancer and prostate cancer are the major cancer risks in this decade. But, in addition, lung cancer risk also goes up. Smokers are at the greatest risk.
To monitor colorectal cancer, doctors recommend a colonoscopy at age 50 and again every few years after. For prostate cancer, men should get their prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level tested. This number is an indicator of prostate cancer risk.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes risk continues to go up with age. This increases the risk for other health problems later in life. Men in their 50s with Type 2 diabetes are at increased risk for heart disease, skin problems and erectile dysfunction. In addition, a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine by Christine T. Cigolle and colleagues found adults between 51 and 60 years of age have double the risk of having age-related ailments such as dizziness, vision impairment, and incontinence as those who did not have the disease.
There are several medications to treat Type 2, but many of them come with side effects to look out for. For example, studies show Invokana (canagliflozin) and other SGLT2 inhibitor drugs may increase kidney damage, diabetic ketoacidosis and pancreatic issues.
Health Risks and Medical Tests for Men 60+
Men aged 60 or older are at significant risk for a number of cancers. Cardiovascular health takes center stage with new risks for aortic aneurysms, stroke and continued risks for heart disease. Mental health also becomes a priority since older men are at increased suicide risk, particularly older white men. Osteoarthritis risk is also at its peak. Many men in this decade may consider joint replacement. In addition, some older men may become residents of nursing homes.
Here are some health risks and tips for men in their 60s:
Quick Health Tips for Men in their 60s
- Get screenings for aortic aneurysms.
- Screen for prostate, colon, and leukemia. If you smoke, screen for lung cancer.
- Heart disease risk remains high. Continue to monitor cholesterol, blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
- Get vaccinations for herpes zoster.
- Keep an eye on osteoporosis risk.
- Be aware of the symptoms and risks of stroke.
- Some men may have multiple medications. Beware of drug interactions.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Aortic aneurysms work in two ways, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A dissection occurs when blood leaks in between the layers of the artery wall, and a rupture happens when an aneurysm bursts completely, causing internal bleeding.
Men are more likely to have aneurysms than women, and two-thirds of people who have an aortic dissection are male. Men aged 65 to 75 are at increased risk. Those who have ever smoked should be tested for an aneurysm.
Thoracic aneurysms occur in the chest and can cause shortness of breath, sudden pain in the chest and trouble breathing or swallowing. Abdominal aneurysms happen below the chest and are more common in men aged 65 or older. They may cause throbbing pain in the back, side, groin or legs.
Certain medications may also increase the risk of an aortic aneurysm. Studies link popular antibiotics such as Levaquin (levofloxacin), Cipro (ciprofloxacin), and Avelox (moxiflozacin) to aortic dissections and aneurysms. One 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed these antibiotics increased aneurysm risk by two-fold.
The risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia increases after 65. While doctors diagnose more women than men with the disease, it is still a serious illness. It is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's, about 1.9 million men.
Currently Alzheimer's and other types of dementia have no cure, but having a healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise, can improve overall health, according to the National Institute on Aging.
As men age, their risk of suicide also increases, putting more emphasis on paying attention to mental health and interventions for elderly men. Overall, women are three times as likely to report an attempted suicide, but men are four times more likely to actually kill themselves, according to the Population Reference Bureau. The overall rate of suicide in the U.S. is 11 deaths per 100,000 Americans. White men over 65 have nearly triple the overall rate.
Beginning in the 60s men's cancer risk increases and peaks in the 70s. The key malignancies to screen for include prostate cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer and leukemia.
Men in their 70s and older also are at risk for these cancers: bladder, throat, esophagus, kidney and pancreas. Non-smokers have less risk than former and current smokers.
Joint problems remain a significant health risk in the 60s and beyond. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that is most common in people older than 65. The disease worsens over time and causes pain and difficulty moving. It affects joints including knees, hips, lower back, neck and fingers.
Osteoarthritis is the main reason why people have a hip or knee replacement. In general, joint replacements can help people regain mobility and quality of life. But, certain types of metal-on-metal hip implants or knee implants are more problematic than others and can cause disabling complications such as metal poisoning, infection and fractures.
Men in this decade of life and beyond are more susceptible to strokes. For every decade of life after the age of 55, stroke risk doubles, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Two thirds of all strokes occur in people over age 65. Men's stroke risk is 1.25 times higher than women's risk, so older men are at increased risk. Obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking are all risks for stroke.
Doctors encourage people to be aware of the symptoms of stroke, such as: numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg; trouble seeing out of one or both eyes; sudden severe headache; and confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech. Treatment is most effective within four hours.
Adults in their 60s and beyond are also more likely to take a number of prescription medications. According to a U.S. survey taken from 2010 to 2011 among adults aged 62 to 85, 87 percent used at least one medication. In another survey, 44 percent of men took five or more medications per week.
Common drugs such as Tylenol (acetaminophen), aspirin and ibuprofen contribute to adverse drug reactions in the elderly. More medications lead to more chances for drug reactions and side effects. The drugs most involved in adverse reactions include antibiotics such as Levaquin or Cipro, anticoagulants such as Xarelto (rivaroxaban), opioid painkillers, steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.
Nursing Home Abuse
Men over 65 are also more likely to need assistance with daily living. Some families may have to put older loved ones in nursing homes. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes have the same quality of care. A staggering 85 percent of nursing homes in the U.S. reported at least one incidence of abuse or neglect in 2012, according to a recent government study.
Injuries such as bedsores, open wounds, broken bones bruising and infections are common signs of nursing home abuse. Family members should visit their nursing home residents often and check on the facility's credentials.
Health Risks and Medical Tests for Women in their 20s
Women in their 20s are in prime health. Because of this, many young women may ignore regular doctor visits or preventative measures. But, in this decade you form healthy and preventative practices that may protect you from chronic health conditions as you age. In this decade, women are especially vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases and eating disorders.
Here are some health risks and tips for women in their 20s:
Quick Health Tips for Women in their 20s
- Get tested for STDs, including human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Wear sunscreen to protect your skin.
- Learn about the risks and benefits of different types of birth control.
- Eat a healthy diet and try to stay active.
- Develop relationships with your healthcare providers.
- Make sure your vaccinations are current.
In general, women are more susceptible to STDs than men because the vaginal surface is more vulnerable to infections. Women in their 20s are more likely to have multiple sexual partners, and this puts them at greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women aged 20-24 had the highest rate of chlamydia and gonorrhea compared to other age and gender groups in 2014.
In addition, the CDC recommends women start screening for HPV at age 21. HPV is a common STD that can lead to cervical cancer, and young women may ask their healthcare provider about HPV vaccinations. The CDC recommends vaccination for women up to 26 years old. HPV vaccines such as Gardasil, Cervarix and Gardasil 9 may have side effects including muscle or joint pain, fever, redness and swelling. But, the FDA also received reports of deaths, seizure, paralysis, cysts and speech problems linked to Gardasil vaccination.
More sexual activity also leads to urinary tract infections, yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Various spermicides may introduce more bacteria and worsen these issues.
Women in their 20s may be trying to begin having children or prevent pregnancy with birth control. The 20s is a good decade to start a family. Fertility is high and risk for high blood pressure and gestational diabetes is relatively low. Women who have their first child younger are also at lower risk for breast cancer, though researchers are not sure why. The chance for miscarriage is also the lowest for women in their early 20s, 12 percent in the first trimester.
The downside of having a baby younger is that you may be less likely to be settled financially and emotionally. "A younger couple may find themselves ill-prepared for the stress of a new baby," San Francisco-based pregnancy and postpartum psychologist Shoshana Bennett told Fit Pregnancy. High stress may increase the risk for depression before, during and after pregnancy. Unfortunately, some studies link several antidepressants including Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft to birth defects such as cleft lip and palate, brain problems and heart issues.
Zofran (ondansetron) and Zuplenz are FDA-approved to treat nausea after cancer treatments and surgery, but doctors may use them to treat morning sickness. Several women filed lawsuits claiming that the drug caused birth defects in their babies.
If you arenít ready for a baby, there are several birth control options available and each has risks and benefits. Hormonal IUDs such as Mirena may be more convenient because doctors implant the device in the uterus, and it is effective for up to five years. But, studies show they may migrate in the body and damage organs. Birth control pills such as Yaz and Ocella were popular when they first hit the market. But, lawsuits and studies linked the drugs to increased risk of blood clots and stroke.
The Essure Permanent Birth Control System also gained popularity as a non-hormonal, permanent form of birth control. It consists of two metal coils doctors implant in each fallopian tube. Scar tissue builds up and prevents sperm from reaching the egg. But, thousands of women reported damaged organs, intense pain and autoimmune problems from the device.
Experts formerly believed that endometriosis, a condition where uterine tissue grows outside the uterus, only happened in older women. But, studies suggest that it may start in teenagers. It can cause severe pelvic pain, and if not treated early, it can affect a woman's ability to have children.
There is no cure for endometriosis, though doctors can treat the condition with surgery and medication. If you are suffering from severe pelvic pain, you should see a doctor to rule out endometriosis.
The foremost cancer risk for women in their 20s is cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is caused by HPV, a common virus passed during sex. Women who are sexually active or are aged 18 or older should begin having Pap tests to detect abnormal cells, according to the American Cancer Society. Cervical cancer that spreads outside of the uterus or cervix becomes aggressive. Detecting cancer early increased the likelihood of successful treatment.
Women are twice as likely to suffer from major depression as men, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Women also attempt suicide more often than men, and it is one of the leading causes of death in young people ages 15 to 24. In women, the average age for onset of major depression and schizophrenia is the mid-20s.
This makes taking care of mental health and having a good support system of friends and family more important. Doctors treat depression or another mental disorder with talk therapy or in some more severe cases, medication.
Be aware, however, that some antidepressants and antipsychotics come with side effects. For instance, studies link Abilify (aripiprazole) to compulsive gambling, binge eating and sexual disorders. Some research also links SSRI antidepressants to birth defects.
In the U.S. 20 million women may suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime. College-age women are especially vulnerable to eating disorders. According to the Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association (MEDA), 20 percent of college students said they have or previously had an eating disorder. Fifteen percent of women 17 to 24 have an eating disorder. These disorders can cause permanent damage to organs and may lead to death.
The three main disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder. Women affected by anorexia disorder are abnormally thin and continue to diet even when they are underweight. Women with bulimia will eat large amounts of food and then force themselves to vomit. Because they maintain a normal body weight, they can hide their condition. Women who binge-eat may be overweight or obese. They feel shame connected to food that causes them to eat in secret.
Women can treat eating disorders by seeking a counselor and nutritionist.
Health Risks and Medical Tests for Women in their 30s
Women in their 30s are establishing careers and maybe in relationships or starting families. Overall, a woman's 30s are a productive and healthy time of life. But, bad habits you may carry over from your 20s could impact your health in your 40s and beyond. This decade is critical for family planning, because fertility decreases in the 30s. Bone and heart health become more important, and keeping a healthy weight can stave off cardiovascular problems and Type 2 diabetes.
Here are some health risks and tips for women in their 30s:
Quick Health Tips for Women in their 30s
- Get blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar screened
- Fertility begins to decline, solidify plans for having or not having children
- Quit smoking
- Strength training and weight bearing exercises to prevent bone and muscle loss
- Know the risks and benefits of different birth control options
Fertility begins to decline by age 30 and about 15 percent of women between 30 and 34 may be infertile. So, the early 30s is critical for women who want to have children. Fertility treatments still have a high likelihood of success at this age, however. But, miscarriage rates rise from 12 percent in the 20s to 15 percent. The risk for Down syndrome increases to 15 percent.
Women are typically more financially and emotionally settled in their 30s, and this translates to better stress coping mechanisms for having a first child.
A number of drugs on the market could be unsafe to take during pregnancy. For example, studies link SSRI antidepressants to birth defects. Women who took Zofran (ondansetron) for morning sickness filed lawsuits against the drug's maker after they had babies born with birth defects. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take if you are planning on becoming pregnant.
Women who donít wish to have a family will still have the same options of birth control as they did in their 20s. But, the risk of blood clots and stroke from hormonal birth control rises significantly, especially if a woman smokes or is overweight.
The controversial Essure Permanent Birth Control System garnered media attention when thousands of women came forward and said the implant caused them serious complications, including hemorrhaging, organ damage and chronic pelvic pain.
Metabolism begins to slow down in a woman's 30s. But, keeping a healthy diet and adding more fruits and veggies as well as strength training can help keep metabolism up. Aerobic exercise keeps the heart healthy, but strength training can increase metabolism because muscle burns more calories than fat. By managing your lifestyle now you can avoid weight gain and heart disease in later years.
Though high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol typically affect older women, some women in their 30s may develop these conditions. Doctors may recommend medication in extreme cases. But, research shows blood pressure drugs like Benicar may lead to gastrointestinal problems. In studies, statins to control high cholesterol such as Lipitor may increase the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes and muscle issues.
In her 30s a woman still has a cervical cancer risk, but the chance of lymphoma also rises. Lymphoma begins as enlarged, painless lymph nodes. Unfortunately, there is no blood test for lymphoma. If you have enlarged lymph nodes for more than two weeks, you should see your doctor.
Health Risks and Medical Tests for Women in their 40s
In this decade of life, women's risk for chronic health conditions like Type 2 diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis rises. A woman's fertility decreases, making it more difficult to get pregnant. Hormone changes also make it easier to gain weight. Getting blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar checked becomes more of a priority. Some doctors may recommend mammograms every 1 to 2 years, but not all experts agree in the benefits of annual screening in the 40s.
Here are some health risks and tips for women in their 40s:
Quick Health Tips for Women in their 40s
- Get blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar screened.
- Fertility declines, and hormone production declines.
- Risk of miscarriage and chromosome abnormalities in babies increases.
- Strength training and weight bearing exercises to prevent bone and muscle loss.
- Know the risks and benefits of different birth control options.
- Ask your doctor about mammograms every 1 to 2 years.
Uterine fibroids are tumors that grow inside the uterine wall, and most are benign. They can affect women of childbearing age, but are most common in women in their 40s. About 20 to 80 percent of women develop fibroids in their 40s. After menopause, fibroids usually shrink. Common symptoms include pain, heavy menstrual bleeding frequent urination and pain in the lower back and during sex. They may put pressure on the bladder or rectum. In rare cases, fibroids may become malignant and turn into a cancer called leiomyosarcoma.
Women with a family history, who are overweight and eat a lot of red meat are more likely to get fibroids.
Doctors typically treat fibroids with birth control pills to stop the fibroid's growth and heavy menstrual bleeding. If the fibroids are very large and painful, a woman may choose to undergo surgery called a myomectomy to remove fibroids. Doctors may perform the procedure with a power morcellator. Surgeons use these drill-like devices to perform minimally invasive surgery to grind up the fibroids and remove them through small incisions in the abdomen. But, the FDA warned morcellators may spread undiagnosed uterine cancer in 1 in 350 women.
The only surgery to cure fibroids is hysterectomy, where the doctor removes the uterus. However, hysterectomy is a major surgery and may have complications. For instance, women who undergo hysterectomy are at risk for pelvic organ prolapse, a condition where the organs sink into the vagina or rectum.
In their 40s, women should be concerned about lymphoma and the growing risk of breast cancer. The National Institute of Health does recommend starting mammograms every 1 to 2 years in this decade. Women with a family history of breast cancer should get tested every year. Depending on the doctor, he or she may or may not recommend a mammogram for a woman in her 40s. During this decade a woman's breasts are dense and mammograms may have a difficult time finding small lumps.
In her 40s, a woman's body begins to produce fewer hormones. Some women may begin perimenopause in this decade, slowly decreasing hormones and preparing for menopause. Most women experience menopause, when menstruation stops, between ages 40 and 58. If you smoke, you will reach menopause about two years earlier.
A woman's metabolism slows down as a result of these changes, and she may be more likely to gain weight. Exercise with both aerobic and strength training components will help control weight and blood sugar.
There are hormone replacement therapy medications such as Prempro, Provera and Premarin. But, some studies and lawsuits say these drugs carry a health risks. According to the National Cancer Institute, hormone therapy increases the risk of breast cancer, stroke, blood clots and dementia.
Heart disease risk begins to rise for women in their 40s, though it is still relatively small. For instance, about 6 out of 100 women between age 40 and 59 have coronary heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. But this decade is crucial for maintaining heart health in the 50s and beyond. Poor diet, lack of activity, smoking and obesity are factors that you can control to lower your risk.
Diabetes risk increases in this age group as well. Diabetes is the number 6 killer of women ages 45 to 54, according to The North American Menopause Society. Experts feel it affects this age group because of hormonal changes and menopause. Type 2 diabetes is most common in people 40 and older.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity put a woman at increased risk. Unfortunately, the cholesterol drug Lipitor (atorvastatin) may put women at increased risk for Type 2 diabetes. Studies show older, post-menopausal women are particularly at risk.
The American Diabetes Association recommends getting tested every 3 years for diabetes starting at age 45, particularly if you are overweight or have a family history.
Some Type 2 diabetes medications may also come with unwanted side effects. For instance, the FDA warned a class of drugs called SGLT2 Inhibitors such as Invokana (canalifozin) may increase risk of ketoacidosis, kidney problems and urinary tract infections that lead to blood infections.
Health Risks and Medical Tests for Women in their 50s
In this decade of life, women go through major hormone changes with menopause. This can make it more difficult to keep a healthy weight. Women going through menopause also have an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Breast, lung and colon cancer are the main tumor concerns to watch out for in this decade. The immune system weakens, and a good diet and exercise plan is a must to maintain proper immune system function.
Here are some health risks and tips for women in their 40s:
Quick Health Tips for Women in their 50s
- Get blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar screened.
- Menopause begins, be prepared for hormone changes.
- Strength training and weight bearing exercises to prevent bone and muscle loss.
- Get screened for colorectal, lung and breast cancer.
- Maintain diet and activity to keep at a healthy weight and decrease arthritis risk.
- Heart disease risk goes up 40 percent.
- Immune function declines, keep a good diet to strengthen immune system.
- Have a Pap smear every three years.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
About 50 percent of women between the ages of 50 and 79 have some form of pelvic organ prolapse, according to UT Southwestern Medical Center. Pelvic organ prolapse, or POP, occurs when organs in the abdomen bulge into the vagina or rectum because of weakened muscle walls. This most often occurs because of childbirth or pregnancy. But women who have never had children may also suffer from POP.
Symptoms include pressure in the pelvic area after walking or standing for long periods of time and bowel or bladder problems.
Doctors may treat prolapse with a pessary, a plastic device that can help support sagging organs, or with surgery. Typically, doctors will use transvaginal mesh, a netlike sheet of plastic, to hold up organs. Surgeons implant mesh in the vagina. But, a number of studies and thousands of women reported problems such as autoimmune disease, organ damage, severe pain and bleeding. Tens of thousands of women filed lawsuits saying the implant ruined their lives and cause permanent damage.
You can prevent prolapse by keeping a healthy weight, following a fiber rich diet, quitting smoking, avoiding excessive muscle strain and performing Kegel exercises to strengthen muscles.
In their 50s, women may start to notice symptoms of arthritis. In fact, nearly three out of every five people with arthritis are under 65. More women than men suffer from arthritis, 25.9 percent of women have arthritis versus 18.3 percent of men.
Osteoarthritis affects the joints and is the most common reason for knee and hip replacement surgery. If you are considering a knee or hip replacement, make sure you read about complications and recalled brands of joint replacements. The FDA warned that metal-on-metal hip replacements may cause metallosis and metal poisoning.
Certain pain relievers may also have hidden health risks. For instance, studies show Tylenol may increase risk of acute liver failure and liver damage.
Most women will go through menopause in their 50s, and the average age is 51. Menopause occurs when women stop menstruating and marks the permanent end of fertility. It is a natural part of aging and is not a disease. But, women may be more susceptible to certain health issues and symptoms after menopause.
Some women experience depression, anxiety or moodiness. Doctors typically prescribe antidepressants to control these symptoms. Depending on the drug, it may cause unwanted side effects. For example, Abilify (aripiprazole) is associated with compulsive behaviors such as gambling and binge eating.
Postmenopausal women may also have a greater risk of Type 2 diabetes. According to the FDA, Type 2 diabetes drugs such as Invokana (canaliflozin) and Actos (piolitazone) may increase the risk of side effects. Invokana may increase the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis and serious urinary tract infections that lead to blood infections and kidney injury.
This entire decade, women should get tests for breast, lung and colon cancer, especially if they smoke or have smoked and have a family history.
The National Institute of Health recommends women age 50 to 75 have a mammogram every 1 to 2 years and perform breast self-exams monthly. Women who had a mother or sister with breast cancer should get a mammogram evecry year.
About 95 percent of all lung cancers occur in people with a current or past history of smoking. Unfortunately, lung cancer produces few or no symptoms until the tumor is at an advanced stage of growth. The U.S. Preventative Task Force recommends annual lung cancer screening in adults ages 55 to 80 who have "have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years."
The risk of colon cancer rises in this decade, and women ages 50 to 75 should have colon cancer screening each year. Typically, colon cancer screening involves a fecal test each year and a colonoscopy every 10 years.
Health Risks and Medical Tests for Women 60+
By the time a woman reaches her 60s, she is more confident and mentally settled. It can be an extremely productive time for many women. But, the health risks begin to peak in this decade of life. Blood pressure, cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes remain a concern. But, new health risks include ovarian cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease. Keeping active in mind and body can help fend off these health problems.
Here are some health risks and tips for women in their 60s:
Quick Health Tips for Women in their 60s
- Get blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar screened.
- Get screened for colorectal, lung, ovarian and breast cancer.
- Arthritis risk goes up, talk to your doctor about ways to manage it.
- See a nutritionist and doctor for digestive issues.
- Walk more to prevent bone loss, lower cancer and heart disease risk and boost oxygen intake.
- Keep the mind active.
- Ask your doctor about supplements for Vitamin D, B12 and calcium.
- Get tested for osteoporosis.
Arthritis risk increases for women aged 60 and beyond. Women have a greater risk of all types of arthritis than men. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis. It worsens over time and affects the cartilage in joints. It is most common in people age 65 and older.
The hips and knees are two of the most common joints affected. With a larger aging population, knee and hip replacement surgery because of OA is increasing. Joint replacement can improve quality of life and mobility. But, some knee and hip implants may cause more complications than others.
For instance, patients who had hip replacements made by Stryker, DePuy and Zimmer filed lawsuits because they claim the implants are faulty. A number of companies recalled certain models of hip implants. Before undergoing hip or knee replacement surgery, make sure you research the brand your doctor will use.
Women in their 60s have a number of cancer risks, these include: lung, breast, colon and ovarian cancer. The National Institutes of Health recommends mammograms for breast cancer every 1 to 2 years and a fecal test for colon cancer every year. In addition, a woman should get a colonoscopy every 10 years.
Women who "have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years" should get a lung cancer screening each year.
While ovarian cancer is the fifth more common cause of cancer death in women, it has no screening test. Symptoms of ovarian cancer are nonspecific but include pain or pressure in the abdomen or pelvic area. Some risk factors for ovarian cancer include long-term use of fertility drugs and a family history.
But, some studies also link long-term talcum powder use to ovarian cancer. Women who used Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson claiming the products lead to ovarian cancer.
A stroke occurs when a blood clot or a ruptured blood vessel interrupts blood supply to the brain. According to recent studies, women are more vulnerable to stroke than men. In fact, more women have strokes and die from them than men, according to the American Heart Association.
Women are more likely to suffer from stroke risk factors such as depression, diabetes, migraines and atrial fibrillation. And for most people, stroke risk doubles after age 55.
A healthy diet, regular exercise, watching your weight and maintaining heart health can prevent stroke.
Doctors may prescribe blood thinners to reduce stroke risk, especially if you have atrial fibrillation. But, some studies show blood thinners such as Xarelto (rivaroxaban) may increase the risk of uncontrolled bleeding that can be fatal.
Dementia and Alzheimer's begin with gradual memory loss and impairs a person's abilities to perform daily tasks. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia and accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all cases.
Women are more likely to suffer from dementia and Alzheimer's disease than men. In fact almost two thirds of people with Alzheimer's in the U.S. are women. A woman's risk of Alzheimer's is 1 in 6, greater than her risk for breast cancer. About 3.2 million women in the U.S. over age 65 had Alzheimer's, versus 1.8 million men.
Some risk factors for dementia include age, alcohol use, diabetes and high blood pressure. Some medications may increase the risk of dementia. For instance, studies link heartburn drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) including Nexium (esomeprazole) and Prilosec (omeprazole) to decreased brain function and dementia.
Urinary Incontinence, the loss of bladder control, becomes more common for women in their 60s. In fact, daily urinary incontinence affects about 12 percent of women age 60 to 64. Women are more likely to have stress urinary incontinence (SUI) because childbirth weakens the muscles that control the bladder. Being overweight or having Type 2 diabetes can also increase the risk.
There are a few treatments for incontinence including pelvic floor training with Kegel exercises, electrical stimulations of the muscles or bladder surgery. SUI surgery typically involves used a net-like, plastic implant called a transvaginal mesh bladder sling to keep the urethra in its correct position. But, some women reported serious complications such as perforated organs, nerve damage and chronic pain after receiving a mesh implant. The FDA also warned that mesh is associated with greater complications than surgery without mesh.
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