The researchers found that women who reported sexual activity every week were 28% less likely to have menopause than women who had sex less than once a month.
Likewise, women who had sex every month were 19% less likely to have menopause than those who had sex less than once a month.
Although the study did not consider the cause of the association, the authors said that physical sex signals may give the body indications that there is a possibility of pregnancy. But for middle-aged women who don’t have frequent sex, early menopause may be more biologically rational.
“There is no point in ovulation if there is no intention of procreating, it is better to use this energy elsewhere,” said Megan Arnott, lead author of the study and PhD candidate in Evolutionary Anthropology at University College London.
Arnott added that during ovulation, women are more likely to develop diseases due to a weakened immune system. If pregnancy is unlikely due to decreased sexual activity, this means that it will not be beneficial for the body to devote energy to the ovulation process.
Instead, she said, the findings support the “novelty hypothesis”, a theory that suggests menopause originally evolved in humans to reduce “reproductive conflict” between different generations of women and to ensure the comfort and prosperity of their grandchildren.
“There may be a vital trade-off between investing energy in ovulation and investing it elsewhere, such as maintaining its activity by caring for grandchildren,” Arnott added.
The research is based on the United States Study of Women’s Health, a unique view of middle-aged women’s health that started in 1996. The average age of about 3,000 women in the data was 45 years old when the study began, and they had two children on average, and they were Most of them are married, in a relationship, or live with their partners. About 45% of these women experienced normal menopause at the age of 52. Interviews were conducted over a 10-year period.
At the beginning of the study, none of the women had entered the menopause stage, but 46% of them were close to menopause (the onset of menopausal symptoms such as irregular periods and hot flashes), and 54% of them were in the premenopausal period (they had Regular sessions and do not show any menopausal symptoms).
In their analysis, the researchers excluded factors that could explain the association, including estrogen levels, education, body mass index (BMI), race, smoking habits, and timing of the first woman’s cycle.
It is the first time that a study has found a link between frequent sex and menopause.
The next step is to try to replicate the results to other population groups, although Arnott said there is little data available on gender and menopause.
For women looking to delay the onset of symptoms such as hot flashes that can cause discomfort in the years leading up to menopause, Arnott said that more sex may not hurt, but the study did not examine this problem.
She added that the mechanism of the relationship between sex and menopause is a promising path for future research, and could open the door to behavioral interventions.