Hormone therapy helps women better navigate menopause

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  • A study found that women with more education are less likely to face sexual dysfunction later on in life
  • Hormone therapy not only helps with menopause symptoms, but also helps improve the sex lives of menopausal women
  • These results are consistent with the findings of prior studies

Women with secondary and higher education and a larger number of lifetime sexual partners are less likely to experience sexual dysfunction, according to a new study.

Factors that determine female sexual dysfunction 

The research published in Menopause identified the determinants that affect a woman's risk of sexual dysfunction and sought to determine the effectiveness of hormone therapy in decreasing that risk and modifying sexual behaviour. 

The study assessed more than 200 women between the ages of 45 and 55 years. It found that women with higher education and a greater number of lifetime sexual partners were less likely to experience sexual dysfunction. However, women with anxious behaviours during sexual activity and those with more severe menopause symptoms were more at risk for sexual dysfunction.

The findings show that hot flashes were the most common symptom of menopause. But the transition to menopause was also accompanied by other issues, including changes that affect a woman's libido, sexual satisfaction, and overall sexual behaviour.

The use of hormone therapy

Hormone therapy is the most-effective treatment way to help women manage menopause symptoms, the study notes. However, hormone therapy was not found to mitigate the risk for sexual dysfunction, nor did it play a major role in determining sexual behaviours. But women on hormone therapy were found to have higher body-esteem during sexual activities; better sexual function in all domains besides desire or interest; better quality of relationships; and fewer sexual complaints than those women who do not use hormone therapy.

Researchers say that this showed the important role of hormone therapy in helping to maintain a woman's sexual function in terms of positive sexual experiences, attitudes about sex, body image, and relationship intimacy.

"These results are consistent with the findings of prior studies and emphasise that factors other than use of hormone therapy, such as higher importance of sex, positive attitudes toward sex, satisfaction with one's partner, and fewer genitourinary symptoms associated with menopause appear to be protective and are linked to better sexual function across the menopause transition," says researcher Dr Stephanie Faubion.  

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