Evolutionary Biology: Menopause and Concomitant Dramatic Psycho-Physical and Behavioral Changes in Women

9 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2021

Date Written: September 24, 2021


It is well-known that women undergo dramatic physical, psychological and behavioral changes on reaching the menopausal phase of life. While the physiological and psychological aspects of those changes had been well-studied, very little had been done to understand the evolutionary underpinnings of those changes. Here we look at the evolutionary reasons of why those changes occur. Because the ancestors of modern women spent the bulk of their historical time in the non-menopausal phase, compared to only a short time in the menopausal epoch, for the sake of conserving valuable natural resources, antagonistic pleiotropic forces, that once facilitated reproduction in the earlier reproductive stage of a hominin female’s life, also were instrumental in promoting life-termination once she reached the reproductive-cessative stage of her life, just as our closest genetic cousins, chimpanzee and bonobo females do. Various mortality-enhancing conditions associated with menopause, such as, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, weight gain, etc., are remnants of that age-old force that tries to cause the death of a female shortly after she reaches the end of the child-bearing phase of her life. The relatively newer post-menopausal adaptive force, however, acts counter to that older life-cessation-on-reproductive-cessation promoting force, and tries to keep a woman healthy, such that she can have a prolonged life after menopause.

Note: Funding: None to declare.

Declaration of Interests: None to declare.

Keywords: Vasomotor, Menopause and behavioral changes, Menopause and weight gain, Menopause and cardiovascular diseases, Freud on menopause, Menopause and antagonistic pleiotropy, Evolution and menopause, Menopause and hypertension

Suggested Citation

Dalton, Dave, Evolutionary Biology: Menopause and Concomitant Dramatic Psycho-Physical and Behavioral Changes in Women (September 24, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3929819

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