A research team at the University College London released results of a study showing that people who engage in sexual activity weekly have a lower risk of entering early menopause, or entering into menopause before they turn 40. The sexual activity includes having oral sex, masturbation or sexual touching.
The 2,936 participants in the study ‘US Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN)’, were asked questions about their sex life including how often they had different kinds of sex in the last six months, and if they had gone through menopause. The average age of the subjects was 45.
The study found that of those who people who were having sex at least once a week were 28% less likely to have already gone through menopause than those who were having sex less than once a month.
According to one author of the study the findings suggest the body looks for physical cues to understand whether a pregnancy is likely, and whether it should stop “wasting resources ovulating” and channel its energy into raising and looking after grandchildren.
The findings support “the Grandmother Hypothesis,” the idea that mothers live long beyond their childbearing years in order to help their children raise more children.
Anthropology PhD candidate Megan Arnot told insider.com, “Menopause originally evolved in humans to reduce reproductive conflict between different generations of females, and allow women to increase their inclusive fitness through investing in their grandchildren.”
Arnot said that one of the most surprising findings was masturbation’s relationship to early onset menopause, which suggests that even subtle signs of stimulation play a role.
While the study is the first to establish a link between menopause and sexual activity, more research needs to be done to find out whether or not sexual activity directly delays the process.