It is thought that the frequency of sexual activity influences the onset of menopause, as a new scientific study suggests.
A new study published on January 15 in the journal Royal Society Open Science shows that women who are sexually active on a weekly or monthly basis are less likely to enter the early menopause than others.
The study was conducted with data from 2,936 women recruited in 1996/1997. The average age at the first interview with the researchers was 45, and the participants were mainly married or in a relationship (78%) and lived with their partner (68%). All were asked to answer various questions, including the frequency of sexual relations and other sexual activities. The majority of respondents (64%) reported having sexual activities on a weekly basis.
The interviews were conducted over a ten-year follow-up period, during which 1324 (45%) of the 2936 women experienced a natural menopause with an average age of 52 years. Modeling the relationship between sexual frequency and age of natural menopause, the researchers found that women who reported weekly sexual activity were 28% less likely to enter menopause early than women who engaged in sexual activity less than once a month. Also, those who had monthly sex were 19 percent less likely to experience menopause as early as those who reported sex less than once a month.
“The results of our study suggest that if a woman does not have sex and there is no chance of pregnancy, the body ‘chooses’ not to invest in ovulation because it would be useless. There may be an interaction of biological energy between investing energy in ovulation and investing elsewhere, such as actively caring for grandchildren,” said Mean Arnot, an anthropologist and first author of the study.
“The idea that women are no longer fertile to invest more in their families is known as the “grandmother hypothesis,” a hypothesis that predicts that menopause originally evolved in humans to reduce the reproductive conflict between different generations of women, and to enable women to increase their physical condition by investing in their grandchildren,” the researcher added.
The study also showed that the presence or absence of a man in a woman’s life has no influence on whether or not menopause occurs.