The research involved 2,936 women in the US who were aged between 42 and 52 at the start of the study, and hadn't yet experienced the menopause-when a woman's periods stop permanently and she can no longer get pregnant.
In evolutionary terms the scientists say that it would not be beneficial for the body to invest in ovulation when, due to the lack of sexual activity, it is unlikely to pay off with pregnancy. For one, a menopausal woman is more likely to have a cardiovascular disease such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
"We did not replicate the findings from previous research showing that simply being married is associated with a later ANM (age of natural menopause), most likely owing to the variable cultural and temporal settings of previous studies", the authors wrote.
The interviews were carried out over a 10-year period, during which 1,324, or 45 percent, of the women experienced a natural menopause, at an average age of 52.
Going into the study, almost 78 percent of the women were married or in a relationship with a man, and 68 percent lived with their partner.
The women were asked to respond to several questions, including whether they had engaged in sex with their partner in the past six months, the frequency of sex including whether they engaged in sexual intercourse, oral sex, sexual touching or caressing in the last six months and whether they had engaged in self-stimulation in the past six months. However, about 46 percent started to experience the transition to menopause when the study started, reporting symptoms of period changes and hot flashes.
"Doctors have long known that there were many benefits from continued sexual activity", said Dr. Jennifer Wu, a New York-based OBGYN who didn't participate in the project. Likewise, those who had sex monthly were 19% less likely to experience menopause at any given age compared to those who had sex less than monthly.
Our results were found to be significant even after taking into consideration other behavioural and physiological factors, such as the woman's body mass index, the number of children she's had, her educational attainment and oestrogen levels.
The correlation between frequency of sex and onset of menopause was unmistakable, the researchers found.
'Nonetheless, these results are an initial indication that menopause timing may be adaptive in response to the likelihood of becoming pregnant'.
Arnot, M., Mace, R.
On average, intimate relations at least once a week reduce the chances of entering menopause by 28% compared to women who have sex less than once a month, said the report in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
UCL is a diverse community with the freedom to challenge and think differently. She's a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at University College London. In fact, they said "there is no conclusive evidence either that humans produce pheromones, or that they are capable of detecting them".
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