Navigating Women's Health

A Lifelong Journey from Early 20s to Menopause

By Sponsored by Atrium Health October 25, 2023

No matter your stage of life, women's health is a journey with lots of twists and turns. Some are expected, and some, are unexpected. Our friends at Atrium Health Women's Health pulled together this guide with some of the key things to discuss with your doctor at every stage of life. 

In this guide you'll find information ranging from fertility planning to menopause and all the stuff in between. And, as always, if you are looking for a Women's Care doctor, you can find one here.

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Here’s the GUIDE TOO

As kids, and as women, the next big milestone was always just around the bend: from going to school to losing a tooth, starting menstruation and wearing a bra. Counting the days to get our driver’s license, then to be able to vote and move out on our own - and, then it stops; right?

WRONG! Aging is a multifaceted journey – particularly for women –  that evolves over a lifetime, characterized by distinct stages that come with their own unique challenges and considerations. From the early 20s through to menopause and beyond, understanding and addressing women's health needs is crucial for achieving overall well-being and longevity. In this article, we will explore the various stages of women's health, offering insights and guidance for each phase. 

Early 20s to Late 20s ~ Establishing a Healthy Foundation

The early 20s mark a time of transition and self-discovery for many women. During this period, establishing a strong foundation for lifelong health is paramount. Key areas of focus include:

  • Regular Check-Ups: Annual gynecological exams become essential to monitor reproductive health, discuss contraception options, and screen for sexually transmitted infections.
  • Nutrition and Exercise: Establishing healthy eating habits and a consistent exercise routine can help build strong bones and muscles and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Mental Health: Young adulthood can be challenging, with stressors such as academic and career pressures. Seeking emotional support and stress management strategies is crucial.
  • Family Planning: For those considering starting a family, this is a time to discuss fertility preservation options and family planning methods.

Atrium Health encourages patients to have open dialogues with their physicians; while we know that Pap smears and pelvic exams aren’t everyone’s favorites, there are so many critical reasons to have them regularly. Understanding your body will help you and your doctor make decisions that will set a foundation for good health for the rest of your life.

Late 20s to Early 30s: Family Planning and Career

As women enter their late 20s and early 30s, the focus may shift towards family planning and career advancement. Here are some considerations for this stage:

  • Fertility: Understanding your own fertility cycles and possible challenges is so important - whether you are looking to start a family today or sometime later. Finding your “medical person” can make all the difference.
  • Career and Health Balance: Balancing a career and health becomes increasingly important. Stress management and maintaining a healthy work-life balance are key.
  • Bone Health: Building strong bones through diet and exercise is essential for preventing osteoporosis later in life.
  • Regular Health Screenings: Continue with regular check-ups and screenings for conditions such as breast cancer and cervical cancer.

Mid-30s to 40s: Managing Hormonal Changes

The mid-30s to 40s are marked by balancing family and hormonal changes that can impact a woman's health. Some of these changes will be physical, others emotional, and both can lead to concerns when it comes to intimacy. While this can be unnerving and even embarrassing, trust that Atrium Health Women's Care Sexual Health is here to diagnose and find effective treatments to live the life you deserve.

It’s important to remember that prioritizing our health, even after children, is critical to ensuring that we’re around to enjoy our kids. And, as women mature through their 30s and 40s, hormonal changes can lead to a host of developments – from new stressors, menstrual cycle changes and weight gain.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Perimenopause: The transition to menopause begins during this stage, bringing symptoms like irregular periods, mood swings, and hot flashes. Managing these symptoms with lifestyle changes or hormone therapy may be necessary.
  • Heart Health: The risk of heart disease increases during this time. Maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise is crucial.
  • Bone Health: Continue to focus on bone health to prevent osteoporosis.
  • Regular Mammograms: Mammograms become more important for breast cancer screening.

Menopause and Beyond: Embracing a New Phase

Menopause typically occurs around the age of 50, marking the end of reproductive years. It's a time of significant hormonal change and unique health considerations. Some women experience very few symptoms, but others aren’t so lucky. The good news is that working with your Atrium Health physician, you can manage symptoms to lessen the blow. Here are some things to look out for as you transition through menopause and beyond.

  • Menopausal Symptoms: Hot flashes, mood swings, and vaginal dryness are common menopausal symptoms. Lifestyle changes, hormone therapy, or other treatments can help manage these symptoms.
  • Heart Health: Heart disease risk remains a concern, so maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential.
  • Bone Health: Osteoporosis risk increases, making regular exercise and adequate calcium and vitamin D intake crucial.
  • Mental Health: Menopause can affect mental health, so seeking support and practicing self-care is important.


Women’s health care is a lifelong journey filled with lots of excitement and considerations. From establishing a healthy foundation in her early 20s to navigating hormonal changes during menopause and beyond, proactive healthcare and lifestyle choices play a pivotal role in ensuring a woman's well-being throughout her life. Regular check-ups, a balanced diet, exercise and emotional support are key components of this journey, and Atrium Health is here to help empower women to embrace each stage with confidence and vitality.

If you have healthcare questions or are looking for help navigating your own health journey, find a nearby Atrium Health provider HERE.