Is there an association between menopause status and sexual functioning
Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine
*Aging; Cross-Sectional Studies; Female; Humans; Massachusetts; Middle Aged; *Postmenopause; Psychology; Questionnaires; Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological; Sexuality; Women's Health
Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Women's Studies
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to address whether: (1) there is an association between menopause status and various aspects of sexual functioning, and (2) the relative contributions of menopause status and other variables to various aspects of sexual functioning.
DESIGN: Analyses are based on 200 women from the Massachusetts Women's Health Study II, a population-based sample of women transitioning through the menopause who were not HRT users, who had not had a surgical menopause, and who had partners. The women were classified as pre-, peri-, or postmenopausal according to menstrual cycle characteristics. Estradiol, estrone, and follicle-stimulating hormone were also measured. Sexual functioning was measured in terms of satisfaction, desire, frequency of sexual intercourse, belief that interest declines with age, arousal compared with a younger age, difficulty reaching orgasm, and pain. Predictor variables included sociodemographics, health, vasomotor symptoms, psychological variables, partner variables, and lifestyle behaviors.
RESULTS: Menopause status was significantly related to lower sexual desire, a belief that interest in sexual activity declines with age, and women's reports of decreased arousal compared with when in their 40s. Menopause status was unrelated to other aspects of sexual functioning in either unadjusted or multiple regression analyses. In analyses in which log estradiol (E2) was included in addition to menopause status, log E2 was only related to pain. In multiple regression analyses, other factors such as health, marital status (or new partner), mental health, and smoking had a greater impact on women's sexual functioning than menopause status.
CONCLUSIONS: Menopause status, but not E2, is related to some, but not all, aspects of sexual functioning. This may be due to menopause per se or other factors associated with menopause and aging (e.g., increased sexual dysfunction among aging men). Menopause status has a smaller impact on sexual functioning than health or other factors.
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Citation: Menopause. 2000 Sep-Oct;7(5):297-309.