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Why Do Women Live Beyond Menopause?

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 10:25 PM
Short Summary: As the demand for building green is on the rise, should architects be embracing it also? You may be hesitant to enter the green era, but we all should.
Did you know that humans are quite different to most other animals when it comes to reproduction and longevity? Most animals die soon after their ability to produce offspring comes to an end (menopause). Only three species of creatures live on after their reproductive years cease: human beings, pilot whales and killer whales.
If nature favours the beings that are able to produce the most off-spring then why would this be the case?

Child Rearing

Scientists have developed a theory called “the grandmother hypothesis”. The idea behind it is that mature women are needed to help younger women produce more children, by taking on a nurturing role for existing offspring when new babies come along. Anyone who has young children will probably agree that having a mother or mother-in-law nearby certainly makes this reproductive phase of one’s life a lot less stressful.
It’s not just about work, either.
Yes, having an additional pair of hands around to help out makes things easier, but when the helper or carer is the grandmother, or grandfather, there is also an additional level of support: confidence and trust in that person’s ability to make the right decisions or provide advice to achieve the optimal care of their kin frees up the mother in other ways as well as in practical terms. In theory, this means the younger woman can focus her time caring for the newborn and younger children, and possibly produce more offspring, than if her parents and in-laws were not around.
There is also a generational transfer of knowledge about what works and doesn’t work in caring for a very young child, as well as getting the baby from child to maturity.
Given human children are very physically vulnerable and dependent till at least their mid-teens, the role of parent is an extended one. Some animals have offspring in Spring, and these are fully mature and having offspring of their own within the year. The lifecycle is very different for humans, so possibly nature has set things up to help smooth the way, by ensuring the family unit had longevity.
If this is the case, then living beyond our reproductive years makes sense, and supports the evolutionary idea that the creatures with the most children win. With offspring that are dependent for an extended period of time, having “back up” makes sense. If you then consider that the risk of losing the mother increases over time, through illness or misadventure, having a grandmother provides a safety net for the survival of the family if the mother is lost.
In chimpanzee and elephant families, perhaps some of this need is managed as a result of the tribal structure these animals live in. If a mother is lost, and aunty or sister will usually take on the youngster, meaning the role of grandmother is less significant than in human families, which tend to form much smaller groups. 

Scarce Resources

There is an alternative theory called the “reproductive conflict hypothesis”. This hypothesis suggests that younger women and mature women both in reproductive phases are competing for limited resources when pregnant, so nature favours the younger woman and menopause is triggered in her mother around the time the younger woman hits peak fertility. One apparent flaw in this idea is that mothers and daughters can live great distances apart and yet still the mother will enter menopause around a certain age, even if she is not “competing” with her daughter for “resources”.

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