Menopause dashes sex life

May 21, 2002

Women are likely to experience a dramatic loss of sexual function as a consequence of menopause, an Australian university study has concluded.

Women approaching menopause, however, can relax as the study, one of the first to accurately document what happens to a woman's sexual functioning during menopause, also identified factors that help protect against this sexual dysfunction.

The findings are part of the University of Melbourne's Women's Midlife Health Project being conducted by the University's Office for Gender and Health that has been following a large group of Melbourne women for over ten years.

"This is the first study worldwide to follow a population-based group of women for more than ten years and record symptoms of menopause as well as physical measurements that include blood samples to record hormone levels, bone density and skin fold thickness," says the project's Chief Investigator, Professor Lorraine Dennerstein.

"The study is also one of the few to have a validated sexuality questionnaire. This allows us to measure changes in women's sexual function and associate it with changes in hormone levels," she says.

The study found women going through the menopausal transition experienced a decline in sexual interest, a decrease in arousal and in the frequency of sexual activity, and an increase in vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse.

These dramatic changes were linked to a plunge in levels of the hormone estradiol. Other hormones, including the male-dominant hormones testosterone and androgen, were investigated but only estradiol, produced by the ovary, could be linked to this deterioration in sexual functioning specifically associated with the natural menopause. The findings are published in the April Supplement of Fertility Sterility.

In an invited lecture to the triennial International Menopause Society conference in Berlin on 14 June, Professor Dennerstein will announce from yet to be published data that the use of estrogen-containing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is protective against the decline of sexual functioning in menopausal women.

The data also details the relevant importance of various factors on sexual response. Relationship factors appear to have the greatest effect, having the capability of overwhelming hormonal changes.

"Factors like a woman's level of sexual responsiveness before menopause, changes in partner status (for example gaining or losing a partner), and a woman's feelings for her partner can override hormonal effects. Hormonal effects are most likely to be noted by women in long-term, stable relationships," says Professor Dennerstein.

"Many of the women in our study also report qualitative changes in sexual function. They say their relationship with their partner has changed to be more companionable," she says.

With funding from the Alzheimer's Association (USA), the Melbourne Women's Midlife Health Project is now investigating if declining hormones levels also affect women's memory.

Professor Victor Henderson, a visiting academic from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, USA, is coordinating the research.

"Memory is important in its own right, but memory loss is also sometimes an early marker for Alzheimer's disease," he says.

"We want to see if there are any links between midlife hormonal changes and memory loss and if estrogen therapy can play a role in helping stave off or prevent memory deterioration."

The Melbourne Women's Midlife Health Project began in 1991 and since then has identified those symptoms that can truly be associated with the menopausal transition rather than, for example, ageing. They have also documented the changes occurring in hormone levels and how hormonal and other factors interact to affect risk factors for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and quality of life.

The findings are being used to provide women and health care professionals with accurate information about what are normal menopausal experiences, to assist government and international bodies with policy and health care practices and to provide guidance for future clinical trials and research.
-end-


University of Melbourne

Related Memory Articles from Brightsurf:

Memory of the Venus flytrap
In a study to be published in Nature Plants, a graduate student Mr.

Memory protein
When UC Santa Barbara materials scientist Omar Saleh and graduate student Ian Morgan sought to understand the mechanical behaviors of disordered proteins in the lab, they expected that after being stretched, one particular model protein would snap back instantaneously, like a rubber band.

Previously claimed memory boosting font 'Sans Forgetica' does not actually boost memory
It was previously claimed that the font Sans Forgetica could enhance people's memory for information, however researchers from the University of Warwick and the University of Waikato, New Zealand, have found after carrying out numerous experiments that the font does not enhance memory.

Memory boost with just one look
HRL Laboratories, LLC, researchers have published results showing that targeted transcranial electrical stimulation during slow-wave sleep can improve metamemories of specific episodes by 20% after only one viewing of the episode, compared to controls.

VR is not suited to visual memory?!
Toyohashi university of technology researcher and a research team at Tokyo Denki University have found that virtual reality (VR) may interfere with visual memory.

The genetic signature of memory
Despite their importance in memory, the human cortex and subcortex display a distinct collection of 'gene signatures.' The work recently published in eNeuro increases our understanding of how the brain creates memories and identifies potential genes for further investigation.

How long does memory last? For shape memory alloys, the longer the better
Scientists captured live action details of the phase transitions of shape memory alloys, giving them a better idea how to improve their properties for applications.

A NEAT discovery about memory
UAB researchers say over expression of NEAT1, an noncoding RNA, appears to diminish the ability of older brains to form memories.

Molecular memory can be used to increase the memory capacity of hard disks
Researchers at the University of Jyväskylä have taken part in an international British-Finnish-Chinese collaboration where the first molecule capable of remembering the direction of a magnetic above liquid nitrogen temperatures has been prepared and characterized.

Memory transferred between snails
Memories can be transferred between organisms by extracting ribonucleic acid (RNA) from a trained animal and injecting it into an untrained animal, as demonstrated in a study of sea snails published in eNeuro.

Read More: Memory News and Memory Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.