Men are usually blamed on a lot of things, but now they may be the cause for women going through menopause, according to a study published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology.
The theory suggest that women go through menopause because men have consistently preferred younger women in recent evolutionary history. Thus, menopause is not evolutionarily advantageous and may be the result of a series of random, harmful mutations that accumulated in women but weren’t acted on by evolution because the women had already reproduced by the time the mutations affected them.
“Our first assumption is that mating in humans is not random with respect to age, which means men of all ages prefer to mate with younger women,” said study co-author Rama Singh, an evolutionary biologist at McMaster University in Canada. “If mating is with younger women, any deleterious mutations which affect women’s reproduction later in life will accumulate because they are not being acted on by natural selection.”
For thousands of years (at least), men have, on average, mated with younger women, Singh said.
That’s because, if all else is equal, “those who reproduce earlier, their genes are passed on faster,” Singh told LiveScience.
However, Kristen Hawkes, an anthropologist at the University of Utah does not agree with this theory.
Hawkes, who was not involved in the study, wrote in an email to LiveScience: As human life spans increased, women might have had many healthy years after fertility. As a result, men grew to prefer younger women because older women couldn’t reproduce.