hot flashes

Why sex becomes less satisfying with age

July 10, 2019

Science Daily/The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)

The number of women regularly having sex declines with age, and the number of women enjoying sex postmenopause is even lower. Although these facts are not surprising, the causes for these declines may be because previous research focused largely on biological causes only. However, a new UK study identifies psychosocial contributors. Study results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

 

It's hard to pick up a woman's magazine or ob/gyn journal anymore without reading an article about how and why a woman's libido and level of sexual satisfaction decline during and after menopause. Substantial research has been conducted into biological reasons such as hot flashes, sleep disruption, vaginal dryness, and painful intercourse. Much less is known about the effect of various psychosocial changes that are common postmenopause. These include body image concerns, self-confidence and perceived desirability, stress, mood changes, and relationship issues.

 

Of the research that has been conducted regarding psychological influences, most of it has focused on quantitative results. A study of nearly 4,500 postmenopausal women involved in the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS), however, looked at free-text data to better understand why women felt a certain way and the depth of those feelings.

 

Among other things, the UKCTOCS sexual activity data showed that, at baseline, before the start of annual screening, approximately half of the women were sexually active. A decrease in all aspects of sexual activity was observed over time: sexual activity was less frequent, not as pleasurable, and more uncomfortable. The primary reason for absence of sexual activity was the lack of a partner, mainly because of widowhood.

 

Other commonly cited reasons for decreased activity included (in rank order) a partner's medical condition, a partner's sexual dysfunction, the woman's own physical health problems, menopause-related symptoms, and prescribed medication. Contributing most often to low libido were relationship problems, logistics, and perceptions of aging. Only 3% of participants described positive sexual experiences, whereas only 6% sought medical help for sexual problems.

 

Study results appear in the article, "Sexual functioning in 4,418 postmenopausal women participating in UKCTOCS: a qualitative free-text analysis."

 

"Sexual health challenges are common in women as they age, and partner factors play a prominent role in women's sexual activity and satisfaction, including the lack of a partner, sexual dysfunction of a partner, poor physical health of a partner, and relationship issues," says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director. "In addition, menopause-related problems such as vaginal dryness and pain with sex have been identified as problems affecting sexual function, yet few women seek treatment for these issues, despite the availability of effective therapies."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190710103140.htm

Severity of menopause symptoms could help predict heart disease

New study evaluates effect of menopause and depression on vascular function

April 11, 2018

Science Daily/The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in women. A study of 138 menopausal women examined the association of mood, symptoms, and quality of life measures with the key markers of vascular aging, a major risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

 

It's no secret that the menopause transition is marked with a number of adverse health effects, including hot flashes and depression to vascular aging, which is typically seen as artery stiffening and endothelial dysfunction. With these problems all occurring around the same time in a woman's life, the authors of this latest study sought to determine whether menopause symptoms and depression are related to CVD.

 

The results, as reported in the article "Vascular dysfunction across the stages of the menopausal transition is associated with menopausal symptoms and quality of life," confirmed that. Across the stages of menopause, arterial stiffening and vascular dysfunction were associated with more frequent and severe menopause symptoms and a lower quality of life. No association, however, was found with depressive symptoms.

 

Previous studies have shown an especially strong link between hot flashes and increased cardiovascular risk and mortality. In this study, the frequency, but not severity, of hot flashes was specifically associated with greater arterial stiffening and reduced endothelial function.

 

"Perimenopausal and early menopausal women are more vulnerable to increased risk of cardiovascular disease," says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director. "With fluctuating and then declining estrogen during the menopause transition, it is important to monitor mood, blood pressure, lipids, blood sugars, and body composition because of the increased risk of abdominal fat. Healthy eating and exercise are encouraged, with individualized discussion about benefits and risks of hormone therapy."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180411090449.htm

Yoga, exercise fail to improve sleep in midlife women

Objective sleep outcomes were unchanged in women experiencing hot flashes during the menopausal transition or after menopause

January 23, 2017

Science Daily/American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Yoga and aerobic exercise interventions did not significantly reduce objectively measured sleep disturbances among midlife women who were experiencing hot flashes, suggests new research.

Secondary analyses of a randomized controlled trial show that neither 12 weeks of yoga nor 12 weeks of aerobic exercise had a statistically significant effect on objective measures of sleep duration or sleep quality recorded by actigraphy. Although the women had no difficulty falling asleep, disturbed sleep was common at baseline and remained after each intervention, with women in all groups waking during the night for an average of more than 50 minutes.

According to the authors, previously published analyses of the same trial had found that the yoga and aerobic exercise interventions were associated with small but statistically significant improvements in subjective, self-reported sleep quality and insomnia severity.

"Our primary findings were that the two study interventions had no significant effects on objective sleep outcomes in midlife women with hot flashes. The main implication of this finding is that other behavior treatments with the potential for effectively improving sleep in this population should be examined," said lead author Diana Taibi Buchanan, associate professor of Bio-Behavioral Nursing and Health Informatics at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Study results are published in the Jan. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

The authors analyzed data from the Menopause Strategies: Finding Lasting Answers for Symptoms and Health (MsFLASH) network. The study involved 186 late transition and postmenopausal women with hot flashes who were between 40 and 62 years of age. Study subjects had an average of 7.3 to 8 hot flashes per day. Participants were randomized to 12 weeks of yoga, supervised aerobic exercise, or usual activity.

Sleep measures were evaluated using wrist actigraphy, and bedtimes and rise times were determined primarily from the participants' sleep diaries. Mean sleep duration at baseline and after each intervention was less than the 7 or more hours of nightly sleep that is recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for optimal health in adults.

According to the authors, future research should explore other approaches for improving sleep quality in midlife women, such as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.

Science Daily/SOURCE :https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170123162409.htm

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