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Normal for Women to Experience Sexual Decline Around Menopause

Normal for Women to Experience Sexual Decline Around Menopause

New research suggests that menopause is linked to a reduction in sexual function for most women, although race/ethnicity does play a factor in the magnitude of the decline.

Investigators from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center discovered women experience a notable decline in sexual function about 20 months before and one year after their last menstrual period, and that decrease continues, though at a somewhat slower rate, over the following five years.

The study, published ahead of print in the online issue of Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society, also found that various factors that frequently co-occur with menopause have less direct influence on declining sexual function than menopause itself.

“Sexual functioning in women declines with age, and there has been much debate about how much this is due to menopause, aging, or other physical, psychological or social factors,” said the study’s lead author, Nancy Avis, Ph.D.

“Our findings support that menopause has a negative effect on sexual functioning in many women.”

Additionally, the study found that women who have a hysterectomy before the onset of menopause do not experience a marked decline in sexual function immediately before undergoing the procedure but do so afterward, for as long as five years.

The researchers based their findings on information collected from 1,390 participants in the federally funded Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), which began in 1996.

These women, who were between the ages of 42 and 52 at the time of enrollment in the study and who had a known date of final menstrual period during their participation, responded to questionnaires dealing with various aspects of sexual function —¬†including desire, arousal, satisfaction, and pain —¬†between one and seven times over the course of the study.

The researchers analyzed 5,798 of these self-assessments (4,932 from the 1,164 women in the natural menopause group and 866 from the 226 women in the hysterectomy group) and tracked the changes in the respondents’ scores on the sexual-function questionnaires. They correlated the scores relative to either their final menstrual period among women who experienced a natural menopause or the hysterectomy.

Notably, in the natural menopause group, the researchers found that race/ethnicity played a major role in the decline of sexual function. They discovered African-American women experiencing a significantly smaller decline and women of Japanese descent experiencing a much greater decline when compared with white women.

“Sexual functioning is an important component of women’s lives. More than 75 percent of the middle-aged women in the SWAN study reported that sex was moderately to extremely important to them when the study began,” Avis said.

“It is important for women and their health care providers to understand all the factors that may impact women’s experience of sex in relation to both the natural menopausal transition and hysterectomy, and we hope our findings will contribute to better understanding in this area.”

Source: Wake Forest University

Normal for Women to Experience Sexual Decline Around Menopause

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Normal for Women to Experience Sexual Decline Around Menopause. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/11/03/normal-for-women-to-experience-sexual-decline-around-menopause/112040.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 3 Nov 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Nov 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.