Hot Flushes and the Surveillance State

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One review found mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy decreases the amount women are affected by hot flushes. There is no evidence of consistent benefit of alternative therapies for menopausal symptoms despite their popularity. The cultural context within which a woman lives can have a significant impact on the way she experiences the menopausal transition. Menopause has been described as a subjective experience, with social and cultural factors playing a prominent role in the way menopause is experienced and perceived.


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The word menopause was invented by French doctors at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Some of them noted that peasant women had no complaints about the end of menses, while urban middle class women has many troubling symptoms. Doctors at this time considered the symptoms to be the result of urban lifestyles of sedentary behaviour, alcohol consumption, too much time indoors, and over-eating, with a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Research indicates that whether a woman views menopause as a medical issue or an expected life change is correlated with her socio-economic status. Ethnicity and geography play roles in the experience of menopause. American women of different ethnicities report significantly different types of menopausal effects. One major study found Caucasian women most likely to report what are sometimes described as psychosomatic symptoms, while African-American women were more likely to report vasomotor symptoms.

It seems that Japanese women experience menopause effects, or konenki , in a different way from American women. Historically, konenki was associated with wealthy middle-class housewives in Japan, i. Menopause in Japan was viewed as a symptom of the inevitable process of aging, rather than a "revolutionary transition", or a "deficiency disease" in need of management. In Japanese culture, reporting of vasomotor symptoms has been on the increase, with research conducted by Melissa Melby in finding that of Japanese participants, hot flashes were prevalent in Additionally, while most women in the United States apparently have a negative view of menopause as a time of deterioration or decline, some studies seem to indicate that women from some Asian cultures have an understanding of menopause that focuses on a sense of liberation and celebrates the freedom from the risk of pregnancy.

This is a medical calque ; the Greek word for menses is actually different. The word "menopause" was coined specifically for human females, where the end of fertility is traditionally indicated by the permanent stopping of monthly menstruations. However, menopause exists in some other animals, many of which do not have monthly menstruation; [] in this case, the term means a natural end to fertility that occurs before the end of the natural lifespan.

Various theories have been suggested that attempt to suggest evolutionary benefits to the human species stemming from the cessation of women's reproductive capability before the end of their natural lifespan. Explanations can be categorized as adaptive and non-adaptive:. The high cost of female investment in offspring may lead to physiological deteriorations that amplify susceptibility to becoming infertile. This hypothesis suggests the reproductive lifespan in humans has been optimized, but it has proven more difficult in females and thus their reproductive span is shorter.

If this hypothesis were true, however, age at menopause should be negatively correlated with reproductive effort [] and the available data do not support this. A recent increase in female longevity due to improvements in the standard of living and social care has also been suggested. In other words, senescence is programmed and regulated by specific genes.

While it is fairly common for extant hunter-gatherers to live past age 50 provided that they survive childhood, fossil evidence shows that mortality in adults has decreased over the last to years and that it was extremely unusual for early Homo sapiens to live to age This discovery has led some biologists to argue that there was no selection for or against menopause at the time at which the ancestor of all modern humans lived in Africa, suggesting that menopause is instead a random evolutionary effect of a selection shadow regarding ageing in early Homo sapiens.

It is also argued that since the population fraction of post-menopausal women in early Homo sapiens was so low, menopause had no evolutionary effect on mate selection or social behaviors related to mate selection. This hypothesis suggests that younger mothers and offspring under their care will fare better in a difficult and predatory environment because a younger mother will be stronger and more agile in providing protection and sustenance for herself and a nursing baby.

The various biological factors associated with menopause had the effect of male members of the species investing their effort with the most viable of potential female mates. That would be counterproductive to the supposed adaptation of getting male support as a fertile female and ruin survival for children produced over much of the female's fertile and agile life, unless children were raised in ways that did not rely on support from a male partner which would eliminate that type of resource diverting selection anyway.

The young female preference hypothesis proposes that changes in male preferences for younger mates allowed late-age acting fertility mutations to accumulate in females without any evolutionary penalty, giving rise to menopause. A computer model was constructed to test this hypothesis, and showed that it was feasible. As of it was unclear if there has been sufficient time since that happened for such an evolutionary process to occur.

The male-biased philopatry theory proposes that male-biased philopatry in social species leads to increased relatedness to the group in relation to female age, making inclusive fitness benefits older females receive from helping the group greater than what they would receive from continued reproduction, which eventually led to the evolution of menopause. Females are born and stay in the group, so relatedness to the females stays about the same.

However, throughout time, the older male relatives will die and any sons she gives birth to will disperse, so that local relatedness to males, and therefore the whole group, declines.

The situation is reversed in species where males are philopatric and either females disperse, or mating is non-local. In the case of female-biased dispersal, the female is initially equally unrelated with every individual in the group, and with non-local mating, the female is closely related to the females of the group, but not the males since her paternal relatives are in another group. As she gives birth, her sons will stay with her, increasing her relatedness to males in the group overtime and thus her relatedness with the overall group.

The common feature that connects these two otherwise different behaviors is male-biased philopatry, which leads to an increase in kin selection with female age. While not conclusive, evidence does exist to support the idea that female-biased dispersal existed in pre-modern humans. The closest living relatives to humans, chimpanzees , bonobos , and both mountain gorillas and western lowland gorillas , are female-biased dispersers.

The mother hypothesis suggests that menopause was selected for humans because of the extended development period of human offspring and high costs of reproduction so that mothers gain an advantage in reproductive fitness by redirecting their effort from new offspring with a low survival chance to existing children with a higher survival chance.

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The grandmother hypothesis suggests that menopause was selected for humans because it promotes the survival of grandchildren. According to this hypothesis, post-reproductive women feed and care for children, adult nursing daughters, and grandchildren whose mothers have weaned them. Human babies require large and steady supplies of glucose to feed the growing brain.

Some evidence suggests that hunters contribute less than half the total food budget of most hunter-gatherer societies, and often much less than half, so that foraging grandmothers can contribute substantially to the survival of grandchildren at times when mothers and fathers are unable to gather enough food for all of their children.

In general, selection operates most powerfully during times of famine or other privation.

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So although grandmothers might not be necessary during good times, many grandchildren cannot survive without them during times of famine. Arguably, however, there is no firm consensus on the supposed evolutionary advantages or simply neutrality of menopause to the survival of the species in the evolutionary past. Indeed, analysis of historical data found that the length of a female's post-reproductive lifespan was reflected in the reproductive success of her offspring and the survival of her grandchildren.

Maternal grandmothers concentrate on offspring survival, whereas paternal grandmothers increase birth rates. Some believe a problem concerning the grandmother hypothesis is that it requires a history of female philopatry , while in the present day the majority of hunter-gatherer societies are patrilocal.

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That a mother's presence could aid in the survival of a developing child, while an unidentified father's absence might not have affected survival, could explain the paternal fertility near the end of the father's lifespan. Note the existence of partible paternity supporting this. The theories discussed above assume that evolution directly selected for menopause. Another theory states that menopause is the byproduct of the evolutionary selection for follicular atresia , a factor that causes menopause.

Menopause results from having too few ovarian follicles to produce enough estrogen to maintain the ovarian-pituitary-hypothalamic loop, which results in the cessation of menses and the beginning of menopause. Human females are born with approximately a million oocytes, and approximately oocytes are lost to ovulation throughout life.

In social vertebrates , the sharing of resources among the group places limits on how many offspring can be produced and supported by members of the group. This creates a situation in which each female must compete with others of the group to ensure they are the one that reproduces.

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Female-biased dispersal or non-local mating leads to an increase in relatedness to the social group with female age. An older female could also choose to reproduce, producing an offspring with a relatedness of 0. Because her relatedness to males in the group is high, there is a fair probability that the offspring will be her grandchild with a relatedness of 0. The younger female experiences no cost to her inclusive fitness from using the resources necessary to successfully rear offspring since she is not related to members of the group, but there is a cost for the older female.

As a result, the younger female has the advantage in reproductive competition. Although a female killer whale born into a social group is related to some members of the group, the whale case of non-local mating leads to similar outcomes because the younger female relatedness to the group as a whole is less than the relatedness of the older female.

This behavior makes more likely the cessation of reproduction late in life to avoid reproductive conflict with younger females. Research using both human and killer whale demographic data has been published that supports the role of reproductive conflict in the evolution of menopause. Analysis of demographic data from pre-industrial Finnish populations found significant reductions in offspring survivorship when mothers-in-laws and daughters-in-laws had overlapping births, [] supporting the idea that avoiding reproductive conflict is beneficial to offspring survivorship.

Humans, more so than other primates, rely on food sharing for survival, [] so the large survivorship reduction values could be caused by a straining of community resources. Avoiding such straining is a possible explanation for why the reproductive overlap seen in humans is much lower than other primates. Menopause in the animal kingdom appears to be uncommon, but the presence of this phenomenon in different species has not been thoroughly researched.

Life histories show a varying degree of senescence ; rapid senescing organisms e. Gradual senescence is exhibited by all placental mammalian life histories. Menopause has been observed in several species of nonhuman primates , [] including rhesus monkeys [] and chimpanzees.

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Dogs do not experience menopause; the canine estrus cycle simply becomes irregular and infrequent. Although older female dogs are not considered good candidates for breeding, offspring have been produced by older animals. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about women. For the condition called male menopause, see Andropause. For the medical journal, see Menopause journal. Main article: Hormone replacement therapy menopause. Main article: Disposable soma theory of aging. Igbo women and economic transformation in southeastern Nigeria, — Paragraph 3: Routledge.

Archived from the original on 19 May Archived from the original on 2 April Retrieved 8 March The Medical Clinics of North America. Archived from the original on 19 March Archived from the original on 20 March Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America. Archived from the original on 10 September New Brunswick, N. National Institute on Aging. Retrieved 6 October Soares, Michelle Basel: Karger. Transaction Publishers. Williams Gynecology. Managing the Menopause: 21st Century Solutions.

Cambridge University Press. Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment , 57th Edition. McGraw Hill Professional. Philadelphia: Saunders. Aging and Disease. Human Reproduction Update.

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