Is there a greater connection between menopause and our sex lives than many of us ever imagined? We're not talking about declining desire or vaginal dryness. Nope, it seems that while it may seem like menopause causes sex-life changes, the link actually goes both ways. A study from British researchers has shown that a boring sex life could lead to an earlier onset of menopause in some women. Not having much sex when younger could mean starting menopause earlier than most expect.
According to researchers, the body “invests” in ovulation when a woman is sexually active and there’s a chance of her becoming pregnant. For women who aren’t active in this way, though, the body may respond by choosing to invest its energy elsewhere. It may be an energy trade-off the body makes, but there are ways to increase the likelihood that menopause may come later — something that may bring additional benefits as well.
Some women might wonder why they’d want later menopause. After all, going through menopause means the end of monthly periods and worrying about pregnancy. It can feel like a time of freedom, as well as a right of passage for women who are leaving their childbearing years behind.
But delaying menopause also means that bones stay stronger longer, and there’s a lower risk of heart disease. Evidence suggests that later menopause can also lead to lower cholesterol levels. Since heart disease and rising cholesterol levels can be serious problems for women as they age, keeping those risks as low as possible for as long as possible may pay off big down the road. The later a woman starts into menopause, the longer her heart and other bodily systems may be protected by her hormones.
According to the British study, there’s some good news in a variety of forms, too. A woman doesn't need to experience male penetration to get the benefits of sexual activity and the potential for later menopause. Masturbation also counts when it comes to keeping sexually active, as does fondling and oral sex. So no matter what form your sexual activity takes, you can get plenty of benefits by staying sexually active and potentially putting off the start of menopause. By having sex in some form at least once per month, and ideally once per week, women in the study appeared to lower their chances of earlier menopause by up to 28 percent.
Taking good care as you age is important for any woman, and often sexual health is neglected. But by remaining sexually active, women may be able to delay menopause for a little bit longer and thereby protect their long-term heart and bone health. So consider giving yourself the gift of an active sex life and reap the benefits for a long time to come.
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