Author(s): Kirchengast S, Rhli F
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Abstract Evolutionary medicine, which was formalized in the early 1990s, investigates evolutionary causes of recent human disease, disorders and malfunctions but also the influence of changing living conditions and modernization on health and disease. Evolutionary medicine can also provide insights into endocrinological disorders and in particular in the process of female reproductive senescence. Female reproductive senescence, i.e. menopausal transition is physiologically caused by the decline of estrogen secretion, which is associated with various somatic and psychic discomforts making this stage of life extremely uncomfortable. From the viewpoint of evolutionary medicine, these menopausal symptoms are the result from the sudden decrease of very high lifetime estrogen levels to zero during postmenopause, a situation which is quite new in our evolution and history. While women in recent developed countries experience menarche early, menopause late, few pregnancies, short periods of lactation and consequently low life time estrogen levels. The opposite is true of women living in traditional societies, whose living conditions may be interpreted as a mirror of the situation in our history. From this viewpoint we can conclude that menopausal symptoms may are the result of a mismatch between female reproductive physiology and recent living conditions. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Gen Comp Endocrinol
and referenced in Journal of Osteoporosis and Physical Activity