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If women had historically been the ones wooing younger mates, men would be the ones facing age-related infertility. The big question is would they call it womenopause?

It’s not quite that simple, of course, but a theory coming out of research at McMaster University’s Department of Biology  proposes that over time, a lot of time, men’s proclivity for younger mating partners weeded out, evolutionarily speaking, women who continued to be reproductive later in life. And here we thought the “younger woman” only bruised our egos.

“If women were reproducing all along and there were no preference against older women, women would be reproducing like men are for their whole lives,” stated Rama Singh, an evolutionary geneticist and biology professor in a press release from McMaster. He based the findings on computer models – a Not-So-Desperate Housewives reality model would have made for some great TV – and it seems we didn’t use it, so we did lose it.

Humans seem to be relatively alone in the world in terms of declining female fertility. Singh notes that most other species continue reproducing right up to the end and yet women remain active, healthy and vigorous well past menopause, which challenges just one theory that modern women experience menopause only because they are living past their fertile years. It’s an age-old quandary, which came first, the chicken or the egg – or in this case, lack of eggs.

 

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