Men may be the root cause of why women go into menopause, according to a new study that the authors say debunks the prevailing theory on the evolution of the condition. The Canadian researchers suggest that men’s preference for younger women left older women with less chance of reproducing, and that meant mutations affecting fertility later in life could accumulate. Natural selection protects fertility when reproduction chances are highest. These findings go against the conventional thought that menopause prevented older women from reproducing.
Researchers from McMaster University used computer simulations to track the effects of male preference for younger females and concluded that, over generations, gene mutations that resulted in a sharp decrease in fertility hormones could have led to older women reaching a point where they could no longer reproduce.