For Older Women, Better Sleep = Better Sex

Sleep disturbance is common for many women during menopause and are associated with an array of adverse health outcomes such as heart disease, hypertension, and depression. Now, a new study shows that sleep problems can also interfere with a sexual activity and satisfaction.

Researchers analyzed data collected in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. They reviewed responses provided by 93,668 women aged 50 to 79 years.

Investigators discovered that short sleep duration (defined as fewer than seven to eight hours per night) was associated with lower odds of sexual satisfaction. Of the participants, 56 percent reported being somewhat or very satisfied with their current sexual activity, and 52 percent reported partnered sexual activity within the last year. Insomnia prevalence was 31percent.

The study appears online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Researchers discovered that the relationship between sleep length and quality with sexual satisfaction remained even after adjusting for other possible causes of sleep deprivation, including depression and chronic disease.

This relationship, however, did vary across age groups. Older women, for example, were less likely to be sexually active if they slept fewer than seven to eight hours per night compared with younger women.

In fact, women aged older than 70 years who slept fewer than five hours were 30 percent less likely to be sexually active than women sleeping seven to eight hours. It is already known that the prevalence of sleep problems increases with age.

“Women and health care providers need to recognize the link between menopause symptoms and inadequate sleep and their effects on sexual satisfaction,” said Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director.

“There are effective treatment options to help with sleep disruption and sexual satisfaction, including hormone therapy, which this study confirmed to be effective at menopause for symptomatic women.”

Source: The North American Menopause Society