We all (well, hopefully all) learned in middle school about the major transitions that come along with puberty. But what sex ed doesn’t teach us is that our bodies are in a constant state of flux, not just during puberty. Long after we’ve reached our adult heights, our bodies continue growing in other subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways.
If you’ve been noticing your body starting to look or feel different in your twenties, thirties, or forties, that’s totally normal. Here’s a guide to what happens after your teen years:
In Your Twenties
1. You might get acne. Unfortunately, even if you bypassed acne in your teens, you may find pimples pop up in your twenties, says physician and nutrition specialist Adrienne Youdim, M.D.. Your twenties can mark the onset of adult acne, which is especially prone to flare up right before your period and during stressful times.
2. Your face becomes thinner. The baby fat on your face is the last to go, and as you shed it, your cheekbones and other facial features may become more prominent, says Brunilda Nazario, MD, associate medical director at WebMD.
In Your Thirties
1. You lose muscle. Your muscle mass decreases in your thirties, which leads to a higher proportion of body fat, says Dr. Youdim. So a woman in her thirties would probably have more fat on her body than a woman in her twenties does, even if they are the same weight.
2. Your metabolism slows. You might have already noticed this happening during your mid- to late twenties, according to Dr. Nazario, but it slows down further in your thirties. Each decade your metabolism will slow from two to four percent, she says, which can also lead to weight gain.
3. Your bones become thinner. To maintain your muscle and keep your bones strong, Dr. Nazario recommends weight training, eating a nutritious diet, and avoiding smoking.
In Your Forties
1. You have more belly fat. Due to drops in estrogen and rises in testosterone, your fat redistributes in your forties, says Dr. Youdim. You also may gain weight due to additional decline in muscle mass.
2. You become more far-sighted. In your forties you may start to have trouble seeing things that are less than two feet away, says Dr. Nazario. It may be time for reading glasses.
3. You absorb fewer nutrients. Due to depletion of stomach acids, women in their forties may not digest their food as well, says dietitian Jackie Arnett Elnahar, R.D.. This can cause nutritional deficiencies, particularly of B12, which can lead to fatigue. Taking B12 and enzyme supplements and avoiding liquids when you eat can help you absorb more nutrients.