Why Do Women Experience Menopause?

Is there an evolutionary reason for women to undergo menopause? One theory says that it happens so they can survive long enough to be grandmothers. This is not a reward; it is another method of helping one's genes to survive and flourish.

The grandmother hypothesis suggests that humans have "given up" their reproductive potential in later years in order to invest in the children they already have as well as their grandchildren. Naturally, this is an unconscious, biological adaptation that emerges over many generations and is not the result of individual decision-making. For such a hypothesis to be confirmed it would have to be demonstrated that children are significantly more likely to survive when a grandmother is present than when she isn't.

Dr. Lummaa has done just that in her study published in the journal Nature, demonstrating that children are 12% more likely to survive to adulthood when they have a grandmother's support than when they don't.

Let's hear it for grandmas! Link

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

I gotta agree with Barry, and the same can be said for men who suddenly, in this era, need "male enhancements" in order to keep having sex way beyond the point their body says it's over. It's the 40 year cycle, and naturally, that's all we're programmed to perform in.

The rest is just ice cream and dreams of Darth Vader costumes for Halloween.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I don't think that's an adequate explanation of menopause. Consider the natural lifespan of a human -- that is, how old humans get without the benefit of modern medicine and nutrition. It's about 40 years. Most women, therefore, wouldn't live much longer beyond their reproductive years, making menopause much more likely to be some weird biological aberration rather than a phenomenon with a clear genetic purpose.

Biologically speaking, just about any event that happens after procreation can't be explained by evolution. The genes have already been passed on. There's no genetic way to "filter out" that event if it results in, say, an increased mortality rate. Because of the limited lifespan, women tended not to be menopausal grandmothers. I find it doubtful that they contributed significantly to the success of their offspring to procreate.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
A much simpler explaination would be because younger women produce healthier babies.
I think this account is a better explaination as to why women live for so long after their reprodictive cycles have ceased, as most animals don't outlive their ability to produce offspring for long.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I always thought that it is because as women age, their eggs start developing chromosomal defects at a faster rate. When you are under the age of 30, your chances of have a baby with Down Syndrome are 1 in 1,000, at 35 those chances are 1 in 400 and for every year after that, your chances get exponentially larger. (http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/downsyndrome.cfm#TheOccurrence)
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Why Do Women Experience Menopause?"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More