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Can infrequent sex cause early menopause?

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There is a link between having less sex and early menopause, a new study suggests.

Using a sample population of 3,000 American women, a group of British researchers studied the relationship between women’s menopausal status and sex lives. The 10-year study focused on validating an assertion those who had less sex were most likely to experience early menopause.

Women’s body “revolt” to less sexual activity, the research team claimed, because it is created on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis.

menopause

According to Megan Arnot (one of the lead authors and a Ph.D. scholar at University College London), women who don’t engage in sex have no chance of getting pregnant and this forces the human body to regulate against ovulation.

‘There may be a biological energetic trade-off between investing energy into ovulation and investing elsewhere, such as keeping active by looking after grandchildren,’ Arnot said.

She was referring to the traditional “Grandmother Hypothesis” among anthropologists which claims that menopause originally evolved in humans to reduce reproductive conflict between different generations of females, allowing women to increase inclusive fitness by focusing on their grandchildren. This implies that an end to sexual activities in women sends a signal for the human body to begin its physiological transition.

Dr. Jennifer Wu (a US-based gynaecologist/obstetrician working at Lenox Hill Hospital, NY) approved findings from the study, describing it as a good addition to the body of knowledge in women’s sexual health.

According to Dr. Wu, ‘It’s a long-known fact among doctors that regular sexual activity has many health benefits and later menopause can mean improved memory, reduced risk of dementia, better cholesterol levels and stronger bones.’

Dr. Wu also added that other sexual activities that enhance women’s chances of delayed menopause include masturbation, caressing, and oral sex.

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‘Importantly,’ she continued, ‘even those women who don’t have sex partners can reap the benefits of later menopause.’

Survey participants comprise of 3,000 women aged 45 as at 1996/97 when they were first interviewed. None of the American women had reached menopause although 46% showed perimenopausal symptoms such as irregular menstrual circle. The other fifty-four percent were confirmed to have no perimenopausal signs.

However, findings gathered from more than 10 years of follow-up indicated that 45% of the participants experienced natural menopause at an average age of 52. No cause or effect was proven. An analysis of records from women who engaged in sexual activities at least once a month and others who had sex every week showed that those who had more sex have their chances of early menopause reduced by 28%. Those who had less sex were about 19% less likely to begin menopause at an early stage.

In their publication which appeared on the Royal Science Open Science journal (14.01.2020), the researchers agreed that having a sex partner or not did not influence the results.

“All women will eventually experience cessation of menses and go into menopause, but increasing frequency of sexual activity in some way affects the reproductive system to delay the menopausal changes,” said Dr. Mitchell Kramer (chair of obstetrics and gynaecology at Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital in Huntington, New York.

Explaining further, Dr. Mitchell said prior studies have found that married women tend to enter menopause later than single women. He, however, added that there’s a theory supporting claims that married women might have more regular sex.

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