Can Sex Delay the Onset of Menopause?
*Please note that we of course are proponents of safer sexual practices among consenting adults.
Sexual activity does a body good. Study after study shows the positive effects a healthy sex life within a committed relationship among consenting adults has for men and women. Recent research reveals even more benefits, particularly for women. Weekly marital sexual activity may well postpone menopause, reducing its likelihood by 28%.
Menopause is a completely natural occurrence, that has many benefits. It frees you from monthly periods, uncomfortable cramps and the expense of female hygiene products. Perhaps best of all, you no longer have to worry about birth control or even the possibility of becoming pregnant. The reality though is that it does come with some challenging symptoms that many women would like to postpone. So maintaining a regular sex life as you age is even more important than previously thought. All indications are that marital sex could be a beneficial part of your regular routine, both for its physical and mental benefits.
The New Study
The study, based on data from the nationally renowned Study of Women Across the Nation (SWAN), involved 2936 women who answered questions about their sexual activity. These activities included intercourse, sexual touching, oral sex and masturbation.
Women who reported weekly sexual activity were 28% less likely to enter menopause than others in their age group. Those who reported monthly activity were 19% less likely to be in menopause. The study also explored whether living with a male partner delayed menopause due to exposure to male pheromones but found no link.
Researchers speculate that your body may abandon ovulation if it doesn't receive chemical signals caused by sexual activity. In short, your body may cease providing the energy for fertility if it senses you're done with sex - sort of the lose it if you don't use it theory.
The researchers still don't fully understand why having weekly sex postpones menopause, but they are convinced it is a factor. So if you want to delay menopause, it may make sense for you to stay sexually active in some form.
Sexual Activity Benefits
Consensual satisfying sex has positive benefits for any adult woman - not just one nearing menopause. The medical community is in agreement that it improves physical and mental health. Some of the benefits include:
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Sexual arousal increases your heart rate. As you approach orgasm, the rate increases. Raising your heart rate is always beneficial. In particular, women who have sex twice a week have a lower rate of heart disease than women who have it once a month.
Having sex may relieve pain for some women, including pain from headaches. Sex releases endorphins, the body's natural pain killer. Research has also found that the closeness you feel with a partner can help you deal better with chronic pain such as arthritis. When you don't feel well, having sex is often not on your radar, but it’s something to be considered
Stress is unhealthy for everyone. Daily responsibilities can be overwhelming and promote anxiety. Sex is a great stress reducer. Hormones, such as endorphins, are released during sexual activity and can make you feel more relaxed and happier. Of course, when you’re stressed, you may yearn for non-sexual physical intimacy. Sometimes, just investing in a hug and closeness may help. Try it and reap the benefits.
Women and men who have sex once a week tend to be happier and have a lower level of depression. Sex may also improve your mental acuity. In addition, some research suggests regular orgasms help you live slightly longer.
These studies differ in details, but they are united in one thing: regular sex is good for you (remember, we mean consensual sex within commited relationship). And once a week appears to be enough to reap most benefits. Remember, you aren't excluded if you don't have a partner. DIY works too.
Benefits of Delaying Menopause
Why delay menopause if it frees you from your monthly period? Perimenopause and menopause can cause physical and emotional changes that can be disruptive. Delaying menopause can make it easier to stay active and energetic, two things you need if you are still raising children or are taking care of aging parents. You'll also have more time to adopt a healthy lifestyle that can minimize menopausal symptoms. Eating well and exercising regularly can help you battle some of the menopausal issues. Once you are in perimenopause or menopause, you may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Hot flashes/night sweats
- Weight gain
- Aging skin
- Brain fog
- Mood swings
- Decreased bone density
In addition, you may well experience vaginal dryness. Loss of libido is common because your hormone levels drop, decreasing desire.
Delaying this time in your life may be an attractive option for you, even though menopausal symptoms are highly treatable.
Menopause and Sex
If you ask your primary care physician or OB/GYN, she or he will tell you that sex helps keep your vaginal tissues healthy, by promoting elasticity and improving natural lubrication. Of course, you may still need help having satisfying sex. When you are nearing menopause, you may need a lubrication aid, such as a cream or oil. Many OTC products work just fine. And for many couples, using a novelty lube adds a fun element to their relations.
Almost every woman can benefit from owning a vibrator. Used in conjunction with lubrication, using a vibrator can help keep your tissues healthy by stimulating blood flow to the region. It can also reduce or eliminate vaginal shrinkage and help you preserve your libido. Your partner may also enjoy adding the vibrator to your sex life. After all, it's an erotic aid as well as a medically helpful one.
Your doctor may also prescribe estradiol vaginal cream, a product containing estrogen that you apply topically to your vaginal area. This medication helps eliminate dryness, itching and burning. It can also prevent the urinary tract issues, such as burning, urgency and leakage, that are common during this time, You'll feel better, and your sex life should improve.
Your doctor may offer you other options, including vaginal inserts and hormone replacement therapy, to assist your sex life and overall health. Remember, you don't have to accept a poor sex life after menopause. For many women, sex without pregnancy worries is the best sex ever.
We will address painful sex in another blog. We’re very aware many women suffer from pain with sexual intercourse, and we would never propose that you “grin and bear it.” If it’s important to you to improve this area of your life, we’ll give you lots of tips on how to do just that. Many treatments exist for dyspareunia (the medical term for pain with intercourse), so stay tuned.
The Bottom Line
As a woman, your life may have at times seemed to revolve around your hormone levels, particularly during adolescence, pregnancy and menopause. When these levels surge or plunge, you may have endured some physical and emotional challenges. So postponing menopause may be an attractive option. Now we know that regular sex may delay the onset of menopause for many women.
Having physical intimacy can make you healthier according to researchers. So, you may wish to make it a priority to have some sort of sexual activity every week. Single and not mingling? You can take care of it yourself, with or without toys. You'll feel more relaxed, give your heart a little workout and keep your vagina tuned up. Then, when you do become menopausal, you'll find plenty of help in managing the symptoms right here at CurieMD.com.