When I turned 35 nearly a year ago, I wasn’t expecting many things to change. I thought, “You can’t scare me, thirties!” Although turning 30 had been a predictably anxiety-inducing experience, subsequent years had only helped my confidence. Hormonal acne disappeared; my relationship with my parents soared to new heights. I started feeling financially and professionally independent for the first time—no more would I ever bow down to mean bosses or snobby frenemies.
So I’ve been surprised by how things have been shifting in my body, in ways none of my older peers had warned me about. Now, I like to compare notes with my women friends to make sure that what I’m going through is normal. This even makes me feel closer to them and helps me feel more grounded in this continuous process of being a woman. Without further ado, here are the changes you might experience around 35.
How my body changed when I turned 35
Shorter menstrual cycle and less symptoms
This one threw me for a loop. Right around turning 35 was when my cycle became shorter by an amazing 3–6 days. For most of my life, my period came around once every 31+ days. 32–34 days were not uncommon. Now, I average 28 days, which is still within normal range, but vastly different from my previous average.
This may be due to declining fertility, specifically shorter luteal phase. Your luteal phase happens after ovulation: this is the time when your uterine lining is thickening in preparation for a possible pregnancy. If your cycle is less than 28 days, it can point to a lower than ideal progesterone level. Shorter luteal cycle is correlated to difficulty getting or maintaining pregnancy. My friend, who has been trying to get pregnant, recommended that I lengthen my luteal phase through prenatal acupuncture. Another all natural way to increase it is taking folic acid supplement. In a study of over 5,000 Danish women, taking folic acid supplement was associated with lower chance of having a short cycle < 27 days and greater chance of long (30–33 days) and very long (= or <34 days) cycle.
For me, shorter cycle was also accompanied by reduced bleeding. In a lot of ways, these are welcome changes. I experience a lot less PMS symptoms such as anxiety and bloating. But I like the idea of having folic acid and acupuncture in my back pocket, in case I ever feel like I need hormonal boost in the future.
Since my mid-thirties, I’ve become suddenly a lot more sensitive to cold. For about 8 months a year, thick cozy socks are my best friends. This is even in stark contrast to as recently as 2019, when I was a feisty spring chicken of just 31 years old! And the reason for this is quite simple. As we get older, our metabolism slows down and creates less heat (picture a furnace), which makes us more susceptible to cold. This is also the reason women often feel colder than men.
Weight maintenance is actually easier
Not every bodily change has been unwelcome. Continuing with the trend in my early 30s, I’ve noticed that it’s easier to stay slim. In fact, I was surprised (delighted!) by visiting the doctor several months ago, when I found out that since my early 30s I’d lost around 10 lbs without any effort. With my newly sluggish metabolism, I just don’t have to eat as much food to feel satisfied. I also find that while my brute strength and stamina may have gone down, my coordination and overall athleticism have actually improved.
Dental health has taken a toll
Younger me never would’ve thought I would have to floss at least once a day. But with age, my teeth have become more widely spaced and gum lines have receded. Older family members have confirmed to me that the urgency of flossing is definitely an age thing.
No more combination skin
If this isn’t surprising, I don’t know what is. My previously combination skin has re-balanced itself so that dry areas are not so dry, and oily areas are less oily. My skin is far less likely to breakout than in my younger years, probably due to the lower hormone levels. Even my chin can no longer be considered danger zone! I haven’t yet noticed serious wrinkles, and adding plenty of hydration to my skincare has been helpful for keeping fine lines at bay.
It is never too early for bedtime
It is increasingly hard for me to stay up late and wake up early. Eight (or almost) hours of sleep a night is my most important wellness factor. The idea of being outside the house past 9 p.m. gives me the biggest anxiety. What if I get tired??
Overall, I’m discovering that my body isn’t ever at a stasis. Just as I always try to learn and experience new things mentally, emotionally, spiritually, so my body is still in the process of becoming. It was really unsettling at first to notice some of these changes, as if my power was waning. But aided by group chats with friends, now I’m approaching these with curiosity, acceptance, and appreciation. Physical well-being isn’t just tied to youthfulness, and there are different kinds of power at every stage.
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Photo: hanna via Unsplash