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Decades ago, women had their first child in their twenties. The latest data from the National Institute of Statistics says that they now wait until the age of 32 to start motherhood, a trend that is already well established in Spanish society. What's more, nearly 11% of births are to mothers who are 40 or older. This phenomenon is also sustained by the assisted reproduction 'industry', which is responsible for 9.5% of the babies that come into the world in our country.

At this point, women's life and hormonal cycles, such as menopause (which happens between the ages of 45 and 55), run their natural course. For this reason, many women in their forties (or earlier, in early cases) begin to experience changes in their body due to the end of ovarian activity and they do so with a young child attached to their arms. How can we ensure that the transition between a recent pregnancy and the climacteric, which are very tight in the calendar, is gradual and healthier physically and psychologically?

"There have always been older mothers, but now they are first-timers"

Marta León is a chemical engineer specializing in food and women's hormonal health, as well as the author of three books. With the latest, 'The Invisible Revolution. Take care of your hormones from the age of 40', insists on the need to address menopause, whose World Day was celebrated on October 18, from a positive and preventive point of view: "The idea is to prepare ourselves for what is going to come to us. Motherhood can be chosen, but climacteric cannot." Through her networks and her work, she accompanies thousands of women in these vital processes.

"There have always been children of older mothers, but the distinctive thing is that now these women are first-timers," she says, "and they live this experience that is so relevant on a biological level as something new and little spaced with menopause." The key, she says, is to prepare: "Many women come to the clinic with a very small baby and may come from fertility treatment. They're in the puerperium and they can't even grieve for that menstruation that's starting to go away."

These hormonal tsunamis can be reduced in intensity by taking care of our diet and eliminating a sedentary lifestyle, because León argues that "we must enable all body systems to be put at our service" in this transition. And he makes special mention of the microbiota, "key to hormonal health" and very sensitive to our hormone levels. Here are their 'recipes':

  • Incorporate phytoestrogenic foods into our daily lives, because they help moderate the decline in our estrogen production. Here are, for example, legumes, flax and chia seeds, yogurt, red grapes with skin, pomegranates, etc.
  • Increase calcium intake to protect bones. It doesn't have to be only through dairy, but is present in green leaves, small fish, mussels, clams, sesame seeds, nuts... And at this point, an important issue: "If, in addition, a woman is just breastfeeding, her calcium needs are even greater. He has to keep in mind that he doesn't have a decade left to cement his bones. It's true that breastfeeding is protective of bone health, but only if women are prepared," she says.
  • Taking care of the levels of vitamin D, which we receive from the sun, and which influences the absorption of calcium and, in addition, is important for the immune system and for our tissues. "At 40 years old, we can have it very low because we work indoors," says Marta León. The specter of osteoporosis can be delayed by 10 or 15 years.
  • Recover tissues. The expert explains that, especially in the postpartum period, skin regeneration is essential, especially if there has been a caesarean section or episiotomy. "From the age of 40 onwards it is difficult for us to manufacture the necessary collagen, and we have to provide the body with what it needs. This is achieved with more proteins: meat, fish, eggs (even taking one a day), in whose yolk there is retinol, which is very important for mucous membranes and scars," he says. One of the sources of collagen can be found in fresh bone broths: "Be careful, ham bones are very tasty, but they are not good for this," he points out.

Yes, more attention to the pelvic floor

Irene Aterido, sexologist, expert in the menstrual cycle and collaborator of the brand for the intimate care of women Intimina, points out that women who are mothers from the age of 40 need special accompaniment in the puerperium. The reasons are the possible overlap with perimenopause and, above all, because many of them come from "physically and emotionally hard" medical processes.

On a physical level, Aterido recommends connecting with the menstrual cycle, if you have your period again. "You have to write down not only the dates, but what our period is like, to know if our bleeding pattern has changed. That way we will know if we are entering perimenopause, since the symptoms can start seven years earlier," she explains.

Other symptoms to watch out for, says the sexologist, are hair loss, frequent forgetfulness, low libido, urine leakage ("we should never normalize them"), diluted orgasms, etc. The crux of the matter is not to attribute them to the postpartum period and forget about them thinking that they will pass, but that perhaps it is perimenopause, which is already appearing.


The Intimina collaborator clarifies: "The weakness of the pelvic floor and the intensity of orgasms are also related to the decrease in estrogen and testosterone, typical of the climacteric. We don't have to normalize these symptoms, but we don't have to pathologize them either. What needs to be done is to take care of it through expert physiotherapists and specific gadgets."

And be careful, she also adds that at the beginning of perimenopause we can experience contradictory symptoms, but we should not be distracted: "It is not very well known, but at the beginning many women produce more estrogen. This makes them feel very active, with more sex drive and shorter menstrual cycles than normal." Aterido alludes to these more confusing signs, because not everything is extreme and more well-known signs, such as "hot flashes, brain fog and insomnia".

"The latest studies show that menopause begins seven years before the loss of your period and continues five years after that. This makes a total of 12 years, a period that should be enough to adapt biologically to this new stage without problems," he says. The bad thing, he continues, is when it coincides with a child, with the cohabitation adjustment in the couple, the stress and the lack of care for ignoring the symptoms of its appearance.

"More than menopause, let's talk about plenopause. Many professionals are prepared to accompany her and make these transitions more pleasant for women," she concludes.

  • Motherhood
  • Menopause