Sexual dysfunction is a common problem for postmenopausal women. This study, as part of a larger randomized controlled trial, examined the effect of hypnotic relaxation therapy on sexual dysfunction, a secondary study outcome, in postmenopausal women. Sexual function was assessed using the Sexual Activity Questionnaire (SAQ). Significant improvement in sexual pleasure and discomfort were reported following 5 weekly sessions of hypnotic relaxation therapy, compared with those receiving an attention control. Total SAQ scores showed significant improvement in the hypnotic relaxation therapy treatment group while holding baseline SAQ scores constant. Improvements showed a slight increase at the Week 12 follow-up. The results of this analysis provide initial support for the use of hypnotic relaxation therapy to improve sexual function in postmenopausal women.
Hypnotic relaxation therapy (HRT) has been shown to reduce hot flashes in postmenopausal women and breast cancer survivors. While the biological mechanism by which HRT reduces hot flashes is unknown, it has been speculated that reduction of stress mediates the intervention’s effectiveness. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of HRT on a known biomarker of stress (cortisol) and changes in cortisol as a mediator. Sixty-two postmenopausal women received hypnotic relaxation therapy for hot flashes and completed measures of hot flashes in addition to providing cortisol samples at baseline and endpoint. HRT resulted in significantly decreased early evening salivary cortisol concentrations. However, changes in salivary cortisol concentrations did not mediate the effects of HRT.