As frustrating as menstruation is, menopause isn’t exactly the sigh of relief we expect it to be. From rapidly changing hormones to dwindling bone health and vaginal dryness–menopause brings along a whole lot of health conditions with it. While there is nothing you can do to avoid menopause–you can certainly slow it down. And sex can help you with that!
What does sex have to do with menopause?
A recent study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science reports that women who have sex once a week are 28% less likely to get menopause early than women of the same age who had sex less than once a month.
“If a woman is having little or infrequent sex when approaching midlife, then the body won’t receive the physical cues of a possible pregnancy,” say Megan Arnot and Ruth Mace, scientists at University College London.
The study suggests the difference reflects the body’s response to evolutionary pressures. Killer whales and pilot whales are the only animals besides humans that go through menopause. They tend to have a behaviour called the “grandmother effect” where they care for their grandchildren. This is thought to serve as an evolutionary purpose.
Previous studies have sought to explain why single women reach menopause earlier than married women. And they single out the influence of male pheromones–natural chemicals responsible for attracting the opposite sex–for it.
Arnot and Mace examined data on around 3,000 women in the United States in 1996 and 1997 to participate in a multi-decade health study to find whether the theory rings true or not. The project was named SWAN, it was designed to collect data and track the biological and psychological changes that occur beside menopause.
The average age of the participating women was 46 and none had entered menopause. Half of them were perimenopausal exhibiting with minor symptoms. During the subsequent decade, 45% of the women experienced natural menopause, at an average age of 52. Nearly 78% of the participating women were married and 68% lived with their partner.
The researchers found that the association between the onset of menopause and the frequency of sex was indisputable. They concluded that though the age of natural menopause can vary across cultures, genetic factors only reckon for about half of the difference.
The age of menopause varies from woman to woman. While some enter menopause early, others are late to the game. But it seems that having sex frequently during middle age can delay it! Another good reason to get intimate with your partner right?
With inputs from AFP