January 17, 2020
It turns out that the old saw, “use it or lose it,” is true when it comes to copulation and procreation. Women with more active sex lives may experience menopause later in life, according to the results of a ten-year study conducted at the University College of London.
Published by Royal Society Open Science, the study found that women who reported weekly physical intimacy over a decade were about 28% less likely to experience menopause than women who reported less-than-monthly sexual activity, ABC News reported this week.
The reason may be because “ovulation requires a lot of energy, and it has also been shown to impair your immune function. From an evolutionary standpoint, if a person is not sexually active it would not be beneficial to allocate energy to such a costly process,” the study’s lead author, Megan Arnot, told the news outlet.
“Doctors have long known that there were many benefits from continued sexual activity,” Dr. Jennifer Wu, a New York-based OB/GYN who didn’t participate in the project, told ABC News. “This study highlights a new finding: Women who do not engage in regular sexual activity go through menopause at an earlier age. With the earlier onset of menopause, patients experience more loss of bone and adverse cholesterol profiles.”
The study doesn’t explain the exact connection between sex and menopause, but it illustrates a possible association. Further studies would be required to establish stronger links.
The study began with a look at approximately 3,000 women— 46% of whom were perimenopausal, meaning they had some symptoms; and 54% were premenopausal, meaning they had no symptoms. Over the next decade, 45% of the women began menopause, at an average age of 52.
The women studied were described as having sex weekly, monthly or less than once a month. Sex was defined as intercourse, oral sex, touching or caressing, or self-stimulation.
“It’s the first time a study has shown a link between frequency of sex and onset of menopause,” Arnot added. “We don’t want to offer behavioral advice at this point at all. These results are an initial indication that menopause timing may be adaptive in response to the likelihood of becoming pregnant. More research will need to be done in the future.”
Research contact: @ABC