Menopause refers to a natural decline in reproductive hormones when a woman reaches her 40s or 50s. Sleep disturbance is common for many women during menopause, creating
an array of adverse health outcomes such as heart disease,
hypertension, and depression.
A new study shows that sleep problems can
also interfere with a woman's level of sexual satisfaction. The study
outcomes are being published online today in Menopause
, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
‘Shorter sleep duration has been linked to higher insomnia symptoms, and decreased sexual function in postmenopausal women.’
According to data analyzed for 93,668 women aged 50 to 79 years who
were enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study,
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% reported being somewhat or very satisfied with their current sexual
activity, and 52% reported partnered sexual activity within the last
year. Insomnia prevalence was 31%.
The Menopause article "Association of sleep disturbance and sexual
function in postmenopausal women" describes how 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% 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 healthcare providers need to recognize the link between
menopause symptoms and inadequate sleep and their effects on sexual
satisfaction," says 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."