By Wenda Trevathan Ph.D.
Winner of the 2011 W.W. Howells e-book Award of the yank Anthropological Association
How has bipedalism impacted human childbirth? Do PMS and postpartum melancholy have particular, even perhaps helpful, features? those are just of the various questions that experts in evolutionary drugs search to reply to, and that anthropologist Wenda Trevathan addresses in Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives.
Exploring a variety of women's future health concerns that could be considered via an evolutionary lens, in particular concentrating on copy, Trevathan delves into matters reminiscent of the clinical effects of early puberty in ladies, the impression of migration, tradition swap, and poverty on reproductive future health, and the way fetal development retardation impacts well-being in later lifestyles. Hypothesizing that a few of the wellbeing and fitness demanding situations confronted via ladies this present day end result from a mismatch among how their our bodies have developed and the modern environments during which glossy people stay, Trevathan sheds gentle at the strength and power of reading the human lifestyles cycle from an evolutionary viewpoint, and the way this is able to increase our knowing of women's wellbeing and fitness and our skill to confront future health demanding situations in additional inventive, powerful ways.
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Extra info for Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives: How Evolution Has Shaped Women's Health
At puberty, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) begins secreting, stimulating the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which initiate maturation of the other systems related to reproductive function in adulthood (such as breast development, underarm hair growth, pelvic shape and size changes). Menarche actually comes somewhat late in the cluster of events that occur at this time. What Does Fat Have to Do with It? Most women who look back over their experiences in junior high and high school can recall that the girls who were a bit plumper and less active than the thinner and more athletic girls had their ﬁrst periods earlier, often by several years.
If you ask women centenarians when they had their ﬁrst menstrual period, most will give ﬁgures that are several months to several years older than the age girls ﬁrst menstruate today. In the 1940s, girls in the United States started menstruating at about age 13, but today healthy American girls are having their ﬁrst periods about six months earlier. Another is a parallel (although inverse) increase in stature documented over the same period. The decrease in the age of onset of menarche and the increase in adult stature recorded in health-rich nations appear to be related to recent improvements in diet and health care and are generally assumed to be signs of well-being (Figure 1-1).
What Is Good about Early Menarche? It seems reasonable that the more years of reproductive capability a female has, the greater will be her reproductive success. Thus, one would expect that women with earlier menarche would have more offspring. 30 Part of the effect was due to higher offspring survival for the earlier maturers. Related to this is that the early maturing women, as predicted from other studies, came from wealthier households with better access to good nutrition. Another factor that likely plays a role is that earlier menarche is associated with fewer years of adolescent subfecundity,31 which contributes to higher fertility.