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Women who have regular sex have a lower risk of early menopause

The i logo The i 15/01/2020
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Women who have sex on a weekly or monthly basis have a lower risk of entering menopause early than those who have sexual activity less than once a month, a study finds.

Researchers found that women who engage in any degree of of sexual activity - including anything from a caress to full intercourse - every week were 28 per cent less likely to have experienced menopause at any given age than women who did so less than once a month.

“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 lead researcher Megan Arnot, a PhD student at University College London.

The research, published in Royal Society Open Science, is based on data from the US Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN). It’s the largest, most diverse and most representative study available to research aspects of the menopause transition.

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Ovulation is energy intensive

During ovulation, the woman’s immune function is impaired, making the body more susceptible to disease.

Given that a pregnancy is unlikely due to a lack of sexual activity, then it would not be beneficial to allocate energy to such a ‘costly process’, especially if there is the option to spend that energy on existing children, the researchers said.

The research is based on data collected from 2,936 women. For most women, menopause begins between the ages of about 45 and 55.

Ms Arnot added: “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.”


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