Grandchild can help grandma

What Can Your Grandchildren Teach You About the Evolution of Menopause?

Humans—and two species of whales—are the only living organisms where the female ends her reproductive abilities long before her death. Though it is still unknown why this is, there are many theories that can explain a lot. 

Don’t start complaining about vaginal dryness and night sweats until you’ve learned about why it is humans are a species that go through menopause.

The Theories

The first theory is called the Grandmother Hypothesis. This states that generally, direct reproduction ends in order to aid offspring with other valuable resources. An example includes raising your grandchildren.

The next theory, Embodied Capital Model (ECM), parallels the Grandmother Hypothesis with some key differences. Though it works off the same idea of allocating resources to better help children and grandchildren reproduce themselves, ECM relates more closely to cognitive resources versus physical abilities.

The Study

A study to further develop concrete answers to the question about menopause was conducted by Carla Aimé and her colleagues at a scientific institute in France. A stimulation was created in order to determine under what conditions females would stop procreating.

The findings concluded that menopause emerged when under two different situations: when humans had strong unchanging cognitive abilities, giving them another resource to pass on, and when they cared for grandchildren.

Going Deeper

This study suggests that menopause emerged because it was of greater benefit for the women to use their cognitive abilities to increase child fertility and grandchild survival over their physical abilities (direct reproduction). In other words, the cognitive abilities would increase overall gene transferal more effectively than allowing the women to reproduce over and over again until death.

It’s interesting to know the history of the female body and the importance of why women have to endure vaginal dryness and painful intercourse. If it’s for the good of our gene transferal and the continuation of humanity, then what is there to complain about?

Menopause: A Gendered Phenomenon

In the discussion of menopause and its evolutionary significance, it's essential to recognize that men are not exempt from experiencing age-related changes in their reproductive capabilities. While the focus here has been on female menopause, it's worth mentioning that men also undergo a natural aging process that impacts their reproductive abilities.

Menopause has shown us some interesting ideas, like the Grandmother Hypothesis and the Embodied Capital Model. Although we're not entirely sure why menopause happens, a study by Carla Aimé suggests it could be about using brainpower for the benefit of future generations. And don't forget, men experience changes too as they get older, which reminds us that aging affects both genders and adds to our understanding of how our bodies and evolution work.


The post What Can Your Grandchildren Teach You About the Evolution of Menopause? appeared first on Femininity.

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