Globally, on average, women experience the menopause at around the age of 50. But there’s a great deal of variation in this age both within and between countries. In recent years, scientists have begun to uncover factors that influence this variation, with increased smoking and an early first period being linked to an earlier age of natural menopause.
But our new study has uncovered that women’s sexual behaviour is also connected with menopause timing. We found that women who had sex at least weekly or monthly were less likely to enter into the menopause throughout the duration of the 11-year study, compared to women who had engaged in sexual activity less than monthly. The women were, on average, 45 years-old at the start of the study and were mostly married or in a relationship.
We used 11 years of existing data collected from the US. Data collection began in 1996-97, from women between the ages of 42 and 52 who had not yet experienced the menopause. The women were grouped based on whether they typically engage in sexual activity weekly, monthly, or less than monthly. This measure of sexual activity included penetrative sex, oral sex, sexual touching and masturbation.
Our results were found to be significant even after taking into consideration other behavioural and physiological factors, such as the woman’s body mass index, the number of children she’s had, her educational attainment and oestrogen levels.
Use it or lose it?