Menopause Affects Sex Life Less Than Relationship
TORONTO (MRI) - Although menopause symptoms can affect a women's sex life, they appear to matter less than several other factors, including relationships and attitudes towards sex, a new study suggests.
The study, published in the journal Menopause, focused on six "domains of sexual function" and how they influence a women's sex life. More than 3,100 pre-menopausal and early perimenopausal (nearing menopause) women of diverse backgrounds in the United States participated.
"Relationship variables, attitudes towards sex and aging, vaginal dryness, and cultural background have a greater impact on most aspects of sexual function than the transition to early perimenopause," concluded researcher Nancy Avis and colleagues.
Study participants were between the ages of 42 and 52 and were multicultural, with white, black, Hispanic, Chinese, and Japanese women in the group. The women were not using hormones.
Some of these women had started perimenopause and experienced unpredictable menstrual cycles, while others had regular cycles.
The researchers found that although vaginal dryness, a symptom of menopause, can result in painful sex, other factors must also be involved.
"We found that early perimenopausal woman reported greater pain with intercourse than premenopausal women," the researchers report.
"But the two groups did not differ in terms of frequency of sexual intercourse, desire, arousal or physical or emotional satisfaction."
Results showed that perimenopausal woman were nearly 40 per cent more likely to experience frequent pain during intercourse than pre-menopausal women, even after vaginal dryness was taken into consideration.
The researchers also found that women who tended to derive frequent pleasure from sex were generally not married, felt sex was important, were usually happy in a long-term relationship, and used contraception..
Almost 60 per cent of the women said they felt some form of sexual desire at least once a week.