A lot goes on in your life when you move into your 30s. You become more established in your career, for one, and you may be growing (or thinking about starting) a family.
But this pivotal decade is also a time when some unexpected body issues strike that may make you wonder, ‘huh? what’s happening?’ Here are five things every woman should look out for during the decade that takes you from young adulthood to middle age.
Your periods get a little weird
A natural dip in estrogen and progesterone levels at about age 35 can cause your cycle to change—it might be shorter or longer, lighter or heavier, or earlier or later than usual. Some women also enter perimenopause (the transitional phase before menopause) as early as their latr 30s, and that also bring on period changes, says ob-gyn Jessica Shepherd, MD, assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine.
While some menstruation changes are normal, a drastic shift from your normal (whatever that may be), can be a sign that something more may be going on. For instance, thyroid issues are one condition that can skew your cycle. Check in with your doctor and your changes seem like they could signal something potentially serious.
Gray pubic hair crops up
A gray public hair is a surprisingly shocking yet common shower find. “I hear this complaint in the office,” says Shepherd. “This is one we can laugh off together and say, it’s fine.” It’s simply one of those things that can happen as you get older. Just like you can find a gray hair on your head, so, too, can one pop up in your pubes. Still, be careful how you go about removing it, if you choose to do so. Pubic hair removal injuries that send people to the ER are real.
You gain a bit of weight
Although your metabolism may be starting to slow, the good news here is that you actually gain less weight during this decade than when you were younger, reports The Washington Post, taking data from the Centers for Disease Control. As the Post point out, “the average person typically puts on 1 to 2 pounds a year from early adulthood through middle age.” But contrary to what you may have heard, that increase happens mainly in the 20s—not your 30s.
You sometimes pee when you sneeze
Or laugh, cough, run, or do a particularly bendy yoga move. “One in three women experience light bladder leakage,” says Shepherd. This is especially true for women who’ve delivered a baby vaginally, since this can sometimes damage the muscles and/or nerves that control urination.
Urinary incontinence can be embarrassing to bring up to anyone, even your doctor. If you’re nervous, begin the conversation with “I notice when I do xyz, I leak a little bit,” and then let your MD take it from there. She might prescribe medicine or show you how to do pelvic floor muscle exercises that help tighten muscle and improve control.
Sex is more satisfying
Now that you’re more comfortable with your sexuality and body, you enjoy bedroom activities even more in your 30s, per research in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. Researchers found that women ages 27 to 45 had more sexual thoughts, fantasies, and more sex in general compared to women in their early 20s or who are going through menopause. Plus, by your 30s, you’ve likely had at least a few partners. With age and experience, you have a better idea of what you like—and fewer inhibitions about asking for it.