Sexual dysfunction

A new study that involved over 3,000 women, revealed that poor sleep quality, but not sleep duration, was associated with a greater chance of female sexual dysfunction. Contrastingly, good sleep quality has been linked with sexual activity.

During midlife, it is common for women to experience both sleep deprivation and sexual function problems. Over a quarter of women experience severe sleep symptoms that could even be defined as insomnia. Sleep issues are becoming more common and are known to worsen during perimenopause to postmenopause when women report the most sleep issues. And up to 43% of women also experience sexual dysfunction during this time.

Menopausal Sleep Disruptions

Understanding the link between sleep and sexual dysfunction is important. But this is particularly challenging for women who are experiencing poor sleep quality whilst also experiencing menopause. This is because the symptoms of menopause are reported to cause significant disruptions to sleep.

Menopause is a stage in a woman’s life when the ovaries stop producing the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. This results in the menstrual cycle coming to an end and marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years.

The most common sleeping issues reported by menopausal women include hot flushes, insomnia, and sleep-disordered breathing along with anxiety and depression.

Hot Flushes

Hot flushes are sudden, unexpected sensations of heat all over the body which are then accompanied by excess sweating. They generally begin in the face before spreading to the chest and the rest of the body and can last anything from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. The heat and adrenaline associated with hot flushes can make it very difficult to get back to sleep and the frequent awakenings reduce sleep quality.


Insomnia is a chronic issue whereby difficulty in falling and staying asleep occurs for more than three nights a week. The resulting sleep deprivation from insomnia can increase feelings of anxiousness and irritability, impair focus and memory along with increasing headaches and inflammation. The risk of insomnia increases as women move into their menopause stage with as many as 61% of postmenopausal women reporting insomnia symptoms.

Sleep Disordered Breathing

Research suggests that lower progesterone levels such as those in menopausal women can contribute to the development of sleep apnoea. This is where your breathing stops and starts whilst you are sleeping and can have detrimental effects on the quality of sleep. It is believed that progesterone can prevent the relaxation of the upper airway which causes the lapses in breathing associated with sleep apnoea.

Need More Advice?

Here at SureScan, we offer a range of specialist health consultations for women including a Menopause Health Check, a Sexual Health Check, and Well Women Check. Get in touch today to find out more and book an appointment with our dedicated consultant gynaecologists.