Women Having Less Sex More Likely To Have Early Menopause

“There may be a biological energetic trade-off between investing energy into ovulation and investing elsewhere.”

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A new study, published in Royal Society Open Science, has found that women who indulge in sexual activity once in a month or two are at a greater risk of entering menopause earlier than women who have sex once weekly.

Researchers looked at the data from the USA’s Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) and found that women who reported engaging in sexual activity weekly were 28 percent less likely to have experienced menopause.

Sexual activity includes sexual intercourse, sexual touching, oral sex, and caressing or self-stimulation.

Study’s first author Megan Arnot said, “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. There may be a biological energetic trade-off between investing energy into ovulation and investing elsewhere, such as keeping active by looking after grandchildren.”

“The idea that women cease fertility in order to invest more time in their family is known as the Grandmother Hypothesis, which predicts that the menopause originally evolved in humans to reduce reproductive conflict between different generations of females, and allow women to increase their inclusive fitness through investing in their grandchildren,” she added.

The researchers found that the most frequent pattern of sexual activity was weekly, where 64 percent of women indulged in sexual activity weekly.

They found that women who had sex weekly were 28 percent less likely to experience menopause symptoms compared to those who had sex once in a month or two.  They also found that women who had sex monthly were 19 percent less likely to enter menopause.

Prof. Ruth Mace said, “The menopause is, of course, an inevitability for women, and there is no behavioral intervention that will prevent reproductive cessation. Nonetheless, these results are an initial indication that menopause timing may be adaptive in response to the likelihood of becoming pregnant.”