An energetics-based approach to understanding the menstrual cycle and menopause

Human Nature 15 (1):83-99 (2004)
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To explain the menstrual cycle and menopause, human biologists during the past several decades have developed new models of the evolutionary origins and maintenance of female reproductive patterns that address both ultimate and proximate causation. Hypotheses proposed for these processes generally offer explanations for menstruation or for menopause, but not for both; ultimately, these explanations must be integrated. Reviewing current explanations, this paper offers an energetics-based evolutionary rationale compatible with past adaptations of Homo sapiens and with ecological patterns in small-scale, preindustrial social systems in which food resources vary and sometimes are scarce



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