Women's Life Stages – Understanding the Life of Women

A woman’s life cycle is quite varied, and each stage of life – frequently “marked by specific signs and symptoms, such as menstrual cramps, mood swings, hot flashes and weight gain”1  – involves special needs that have to be addressed. Knowing what lifestyle decisions to make can bring out the most of each period and help achieve good physical and mental health2.

What are the life stages of a woman?

As Yuko Takeda writes in her research paper, “life stages of a typical woman are divided into infancy, puberty (adolescence), sexual maturation (reproductive age), climacteric period, and post-climacteric (elderly) years”3. Let’s discuss them in greater detail.

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Infancy and childhood

In this stage, babies explore their immediate surroundings, engage with the environment and discover their own identity and will4. Since this means also social and emotional growth – the most vital part being forming and strengthening bonds with their closest ones – apart from adequate nutrition and plenty of sleep, children need a lot of warmth and attention, as those earliest interactions will impact their future social behavior5.

Puberty

As girls in puberty undergo rapid bodily and psychological changes that help them reach a full-blown womanhood (e.g. changing body shape, accelerated growth, first periods, and significant emotional development), there can occur some health-related issues that demand special attention – both physical, such as problems with hair, irregular menstruation, or polycystic ovary, and psychological, such as anorexia6. Therefore, what is essential during this stage is reaching out for specialist help whenever needed, as well as having a balanced diet and maintaining an adequate intake of calcium, as this period is crucial for the bones7.

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Reproductive age

This is the stage in which women, having already reached womanhood, can go through pregnancy and experience maternity. Although it may prove immensely joyous and fulfilling, the period can also be rather taxing and connected to some potential health issues, e.g. uterine bleeding and sexually transmitted diseases8. It is crucial, therefore, to take necessary preventive measures – regular screening for cervical cancer and health check-ups can help diagnose some of the conditions in their earliest stages. It’s also vital to receive specialist support (both physical and mental) throughout the pregnancy, as well as during and after childbirth.

Climacteric period and elderly years

As we can read on Cleveland Clinic’s website, climacteric “occurs when you’ve stopped producing the hormones that cause your menstrual period and have gone without a period for 12 months in a row. Once this has occurred, you enter postmenopause”12. In other words, it is a stage when ovulation stops, and pregnancy becomes impossible. Although climacteric is a natural and completely normal phenomenon, it may entail some health problems, such as menopausal symptoms (for example hot flashes, especially during the climacteric phase), osteoporosis, heart diseases, or even Alzheimer’s11,12. Fortunately, regular health check-ups, taking the right medication, and making good lifestyle choices can help maintain your body and mind in good condition13.

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References:

1- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Women’s life stages.” Mayo Clinic. 21 August 2019. Retrieved on 7 February 2022 from:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/basics/womens-life-stages/hlv-20049411.

2- Ibidem.

3- Takeda, Yuko. “Understanding the Life Stages of Women to Enhance Your Practice.” JMAJ 53(5): 273–278, 2010. Page 273. Retrieved on 7 February 2022 from: https://www.med.or.jp/english/journal/pdf/2010_05/273_278.pdf.

4- Bedient, Suza. “The Growing of Girls.” Women’s Wilderness. Retrieved on 7 February 2022 from:
https://womenswilderness.org/2017/03/31/growing-girls/.

5- “Child Development. Positive Parenting Tips.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Content source: National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Page last reviewed on 29 November 2021. Retrieved on 7 February 2022 from:
https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/infants.html.

6- “Women Life Stages and Health.” Paras Hospitals. 10 June 2017. Retrieved on 7 February 2022 from:
https://www.parashospitals.com/blogs/women-life-stages-health/.

7- Ibidem.

8- Ibidem.

9- Ibidem.

10- “Postmenopause.” Cleveland Clinic. Last reviewed on 10 May 2021. Retrieved on 7 February 2022 from:
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21837-postmenopause.

11- Taechakraichana, Nimit; Jaisamrarn, Unnop; Panyakhamlerd, Krasean; Chaikittisilpa, Sukanya; Limpaphayom, Khunying Kobchitt. “Climacteric: concept, consequence and care.” J Med Assoc Thai. 2002 Jun;85 Suppl 1:S1–15. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved on 7 February 2022 from:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12188398/.

12- “Postmenopause.” Cleveland Clinic. Last reviewed on 10 May 2021. Retrieved on 7 February 2022 from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21837-postmenopause.

13- Ibidem.

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