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Sexual frequency is associated with age of natural menopause: results from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation

Arnot, M; Mace, R; (2020) Sexual frequency is associated with age of natural menopause: results from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation. Royal Society Open Science , 7 (1) , Article 191020. 10.1098/rsos.191020. Green open access

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Abstract

It is often observed that married women have a later age of natural menopause (ANM) than unmarried women; however, the reason for this association is unknown. We test an original hypothesis that sexual frequency acts as a bio-behavioural mediator between marital status and ANM. We hypothesize that there is a trade-off between continued ovulation and menopause based on the woman's chances of becoming pregnant. If a woman is sexually inactive, then pregnancy is impossible, and continued investment in ovulation would not be adaptive. In addition, we test an existing hypothesis that the observed relationship is because of the exposure to male pheromones. Data from 2936 women were drawn from 11 waves of the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation, which is a longitudinal study conducted in the United States. Using time-varying Cox regression, we found no evidence for the pheromone hypothesis. However, we did observe that women who reported to have sex weekly during the study period were 28% less likely to experience menopause than women who had sex less than monthly. This is an indication that ANM may be somewhat facultative in response to the likelihood of pregnancy.

Type: Article
Title: Sexual frequency is associated with age of natural menopause: results from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rsos.191020
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.191020
Language: English
Additional information: © 2020 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: menopause, sexual frequency, trade-off, pheromones, cox regression, Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10090000
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