The data also details the relevant importance of various factors on sexual response. Relationship factors appear to have the greatest effect, having the capability of overwhelming hormonal changes.
"Factors like a woman's level of sexual responsiveness before menopause, changes in partner status (for example gaining or losing a partner), and a woman's feelings for her partner can override hormonal effects. Hormonal effects are most likely to be noted by women in long-term, stable relationships," says Professor Dennerstein.
"Many of the women in our study also report qualitative changes in sexual function. They say their relationship with their partner has changed to be more companionable," she says.
With funding from the Alzheimer's Association (USA), the Melbourne Women's Midlife Health Project is now investigating if declining hormones levels also affect women's memory.
Professor Victor Henderson, a visiting academic from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, USA, is coordinating the research.
"Memory is important in its own right, but memory loss is also sometimes an early marker for Alzheimer's disease," he says.
"We want to see if there are any links between midlife hormonal changes and memory loss and if estrogen therapy can play a role in helping stave off or prevent memory deterioration."
The Melbourne Women's Midlife Health Project began in 1991 and since then has identified those symptoms that can truly be associated with the menopausal transition rather than, for example, ageing. They have also documented the changes occurring in hormone levels and how hormonal and other factors interact to affect risk factors for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and quality of life.