Menopause is Inevitable, But Having Sex May Delay It
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
What’s the secret to delaying menopause? Apparently, sex!
Bet I have your attention now!
A recent study found evidence which suggested that women who have less sex have a higher risk of going into menopause earlier.
According to one report discussing the study, “Sexual activity includes sexual intercourse, oral sex, sexual touching and caressing or self-stimulation.”
(So if you have a partner and healthy relationship, that is great. But you don’t necessarily need a partner in order to reap the potential benefits).
But what is considered “less sex?”
Well, researchers saw that women who said that they engaged in sexual activity weekly were 28 percent less likely “to have experienced menopause at any given age” compared to women who reported that they engaged in sexual activity less than monthly. Even women who engaged in sexual activity monthly (so it could be just once a month) had a lower risk.
According to the National Institute on Aging, the “menopausal transition” usually begins between ages 45 and 55. There are different stages of menopause, and a woman is usually considered to be in actual menopause once she has not had a menstrual period for 12 straight months.
UCLA Health reports that the average age of menopause is 51 years, but as women there are many factors within our control when it comes to helping delay menopause.
For example, maintaining a healthy weight may be key in preventing early menopause. One study actually found that being underweight may put women at a higher risk for early menopause. In addition to this, vitamin D and calcium deficiencies have been linked to going into menopause at an earlier age. Furthermore, one study “found a link between the type of food that women regularly ate, and the age they went through menopause. Specifically, they found that women who regularly noshed on servings of refined pasta and rice went through the change earlier, while women whose diets focused more on fish, beans, and other legumes started menopause at a later age,” reports Harvard Health.
Smoking cigarettes may also bring on menopause at a younger age.
And having sex (or engaging in some type of sexual stimulation), or a lack thereof, may also play a role. And these are all things we may control.
Of course, menopause is not a disease. It marks the end of fertility for women, and it is inevitable for all women. Aside from avoiding some possible unpleasant menopause symptoms like hair loss, weight gain, depression, mood swings, insomnia, vaginal dryness and night sweats and hot flashes, delaying menopause may come with some potential health benefits.
According to research published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), later age at natural menopause has been associated with:
- Longer overall survival and greater life expectancy. Reduced all-cause mortality.
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and death from cardiovascular and ischemic heart disease, stroke and more.
- Less loss of bone density and a reduced risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
Oddly enough, natural menopause at a later age has also been connected to an increased risk of breast, endometrial and ovarian cancers, however, going into menopause earlier has been associated with increased risk of overall mortality, cardiovascular diseases, neurological diseases, psychiatric diseases, osteoporosis and more.
It makes sense why things like diet, body weight and smoking cigarettes could have an effect on what age a woman goes through menopause. Major hormonal changes are involved in menopause, and it’s been pretty evident for a long time that our lifestyle choices can definitely have an influence on our hormones.
But what’s with the sex and later menopause?
"The findings of our study suggest that if a woman is not having sex, and there is no chance of pregnancy, then the body 'chooses' not to invest in ovulation, as it would be pointless,” said one of the lead authors of the study.
And obviously, women in menopause do not ovulate. So it appears that women may be able to “trick their bodies” by making their bodies think that they are trying to have babies (by engaging in sexual activity) even when they are well past the average child-bearing age and have no intention of having any babies.
Menopause is nothing to be afraid of.
Again, menopause is a natural and inevitable stage of a woman’s life.
“So many women I’ve talked to see menopause as a blessing. I’ve discovered that this is your moment to reinvent yourself after years of focusing on the needs of everyone else,” said Oprah Winfrey, in one article.
It’s about approaching the transition to menopause in a healthy manner by eating healthily, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress and having safe and healthy sexual relationships.
For tips on good sexual health, for both women and men, check out this older pH Labs blog.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.