What Are the Physical Developments of Middle Adulthood?

Written by cindi pearce
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What Are the Physical Developments of Middle Adulthood?
Middle adulthood can be a challenging period in your life because a lot is going on. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Middle adulthood is the period of life that occurs when you are between 45 and 55 years old and which you leave when you are between 55 and 65 years old. Various changes, physical and otherwise, occur during this phase of your life. Physical changes include alterations in your motor and sensory functioning as well as your sexual and reproductive functioning. During this time of your life, your sensory functioning declines gradually.

Hearing and Sight

You may experience presbycusis, which is hearing loss when it comes to high-pitched sounds. If you are male you will experience this at twice the rate that a woman does. Your vision will change, perhaps drastically. You will no longer be able to focus as well as you once could, and your close-up vision may really be affected and you will need to start wearing reading glasses. This condition is called presbyopia. You will find that you need brighter lights so that you can see, and you may notice a decline in your visual acuity, which is sharpness of vision (see Reference 2).

Muscle, Coordination and Strength Loss

During this phase of your life you will lose muscle tone, which is replaced, unfortunately, by fat, and you may notice that you aren't as coordinated or strong as you once were. Your reaction time slows.


You may not have sex as much as you did when you were younger but most middle-aged people remain sexually active. However, women find it harder if not impossible to conceive during this time because of diminished sexual hormones. Men can still father children but do experience a reduction in their fertility. Sex hormones become diminished in both sexes.

Climacteric for Women

Women become peri-menopausal and then fully menopausal during this phase of their lives. This is called the female climacteric, which means the physiological changes that occur in your body for the 15 or 20 years that precede the actual onset of menopause, which is the cessation of the menstrual period. Women may start missing menstrual periods and at some point stop ovulating. Hot flushes occur because of the expansion and contraction of blood vessels. They experience vaginal dryness and perhaps aren't as interested in sex as they once were. In fact, sex may become uncomfortable for them.

Climacteric for Men

Men experience climacteric, too. However, this starts approximately 10 years later than it does for women. They may have difficulty urinating and experience an enlarged prostrate gland. Testosterone drops off, which is why muscle becomes fat; sperm count declines and sperm motility is also slower. Ejaculation may be less powerful and erection may not occur as often or as easily as it did in youth. Some men experience impotence or erectile dysfunction.


High blood pressure or hypertension increases in both men and women during middle adulthood.

Midlife Crisis

Some people experience what is called the midlife crisis during this period of their lives. The crisis may be prompted by suddenly realising that they are mortal and may not have that much longer to live. Men and women both question what they have accomplished and what they have not. This can be a time of emotional upheaval or transition.

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