Anthropology and the study of menopause: evolutionary, developmental, and comparative perspectives

  title={Anthropology and the study of menopause: evolutionary, developmental, and comparative perspectives},
  author={L. Sievert},
ObjectiveThis work aims to consider how the discipline of anthropology contributes to the study of menopause through evolutionary, developmental, and comparative perspectives. MethodsThis study was a review of skeletal and ethnographic evidence for menopause and postreproductive life in humans’ distant past, hypotheses for the evolution of menopause and long postreproductive life, variation in age at menopause with focus on childhood environments, and the study of variation in symptom… Expand
The evolutionary ecology of age at natural menopause: implications for public health
Abstract Abstract Evolutionary perspectives on menopause have focused on explaining why early reproductive cessation in females has emerged and why it is rare throughout the animal kingdom, but lessExpand
Do women age like whales? Integrating diverse perspectives on human menopause and postreproductive life spans
This review samples a range of perspectives on the origins of human menopause and PRLS and argues for a more holistic, interdisciplinary synthesis of perspectives for female reproductive aging combining physiological and epidemiological viewpoints with those from comparative physiology and evolutionary medicine. Expand
Current ecology, not ancestral dispersal patterns, influences menopause symptom severity
Current, rather than ancestral, residence patterns better predict aspects of the menopausal transition, and current patrilocality when compared to duolocality is associated with more severe menopause symptoms, which may be due to sexual,rather than intragenomic, conflict. Expand
Why do women stop reproducing before menopause? A life-history approach to age at last birth
Evidence is provided that stopping behaviour needs to be more closely examined as an important part of human reproductive strategies and life-history theory, as well as a case study of age at last birth in rural Bangladeshi women. Expand
Field methods and strategies for assessing female reproductive functioning
  • V. Vitzthum
  • Medicine, Computer Science
  • American journal of human biology : the official journal of the Human Biology Council
  • 2020
This article describes strategies and methods used successfully in community-based studies of human reproduction, many in remote locales, to produce high quality biomarker data that are applicable to a wide range of research questions and populations. Expand
100 Years of Adolescence and its Prehistory From Cave to Computer
ABSTRACT In an attempt to understand the impact of our transition into the digital era, this paper looks at adolescence across the sweep of human history, reviewing psychoanalytic conceptions ofExpand
Association between age at menarche and age at menopause among women of an indigenous population of North Bengal, India.
There appears to be an indirect association between age at menarche and age at natural menopause, along with different predictor variables, among the Rajbanshi women. Expand
Body fatness and endogenous sex hormones in the menopausal transition.
Analysis of body fatness in the menopausal transition revealed that the rate of reproductive ageing and the body fat pattern were significantly related, and future epidemiological screenings of women exposed to higher levels of menopause-related health risks should be expanded beyond the estimation of menopausal status based only on menstrual history to include sex hormone level assessment, as well as body composition analysis. Expand
Trajectories and phenotypes with estrogen exposures across the lifespan: What does Goldilocks have to do with it?
Information from classic and contemporary works studying organizational/activational estrogen actions, in combination with acknowledging the tendency for maximal responsiveness to cyclicity, will elucidate ways to extend sensitivity and efficacy into post-menopause. Expand
Can postfertile life stages evolve as an anticancer mechanism?
This work proposes that existing adaptive explanations for why a postfertile stage has evolved in females of some species have underestimated an important parameter operating both at the specific and the individual levels: the balance between cancer risks and cancer defenses. Expand


A hypothesis for the origin and evolution of menopause.
Results of a mathematical model are presented which show that reproductive senescence can be advantageous even when maximum potential lifespan is only 50 years, if the premature cessation of reproduction allows females to moderately increase the survival and fertility of their existing subadult offspring. Expand
Menopause, A Biocultural Perspective
Further exploration of women's experience of menopause, as opposed to researcher-imposed definitions; macro- and microenvironmental factors, including diet and intestinal ecology; and folk etiologies involving the autonomic nervous system may lead to a deeper understanding of this stage of life history. Expand
The role of menopause and reproductive senescence in a long-lived social mammal
A unique 30-year time series of killer whales was examined, tracking the reproductive performance of individuals through time, finding no strong support for either of the adaptive hypotheses of menopause and little support for the presence of post-reproductive females benefitting their daughter's reproductive performance, or the number of mature recruits to the population. Expand
A life course approach to reproductive health: Theory and methods
Evidence is found linking early life factors such as growth, socioeconomic conditions, and parental divorce with ages at menarche and menopause, although the nature of the relationship differs. Expand
Grandmotherhood: The Evolutionary Significance of the Second Half of Female Life
By the year 2030, the average life expectancy of women in industrialized countries could reach ninety-exceeding that of men by about ten years. At the present time, postmenopausal women representExpand
Female post‐reproductive lifespan: a general mammalian trait
  • A. Cohen
  • Biology, Medicine
  • Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
  • 2004
A literature survey of studies of 42 mammal species from eight orders shows that post‐reproductive lifespan appears to be widespread among mammals, and suggests that the cost of extending reproductive lifespan might be relatively high in female mammals. Expand
Aging and Fertility Patterns in Wild Chimpanzees Provide Insights into the Evolution of Menopause
Examination of fertility and mortality patterns in six free-living chimpanzee populations finds no evidence that menopause is a typical characteristic of chimpanzee life histories, in contrast to recent claims. Expand
Menopause: Adaptation or epiphenomenon?
In this paper, the evidence for the adaptation, physiological trade-off and by-product of increased longevity explanations for the origin of menopause are reviewed. Expand
Class, gender and culture in the experience of menopause. A comparative survey in Tunisia and France.
Different experiences of menopause are linked to social class and to the degree of male domination, and the distribution of types of experiences according to social but not geographic or national factors indicates that the differences in symptoms are not biologically determined. Expand
Testing evolutionary theories of menopause
A study based on a remarkably complete dataset from The Gambia that provides quantitative estimates for key parameters for the theoretical model, which were then used to assess the actual effects on fitness and provide important support for the hypothesized evolutionary significance of grandmothers. Expand