A Conversation for The Menopause
Aaron O'Keefe the anti-pajama man (ACE) Started conversation Jul 14, 2001
It is kind of a coincidence that I was reading an article in one of the anthropology journals I get in the mail about the cultural significance of it in underdeveloped countries, and a brief allusion was made that left me with a big hmmmmmmmmm. . .
anyway, it mentioned the recent trend for the woman not to go into menapause later in life due to the role change of the female in society (i.e. getting married, if at all, later and having kids later than previous generations).
Have you heard anything like this? Is there any credence to this idea? What, in your opinion, would be the social significance of such a thing better the role of the mother?
Mikey the Humming Mouse - A3938628 Learn More About the Edited Guide! Posted Jul 14, 2001
Actually, I didn't write this entry -- am just subediting it. However, as an epidemiologist I am inherently interested in these issues.
There is still some debate as to whether age at menopause is changing over time. We do know that age at menarche is gradually decreasing over time in many different regions. In general, the earlier a girl hits menarche, the earlier she will hit menopause as an adult (although recent research is even bringing this into doubt). However, there are researchers who believe that the span of "childbearing potential" years are increasing -- i.e., that age at menarche is dropping and age at menopause is increasing somewhat. There are some factors in today's society that could result in a decreased age at natural menopause, and others that could result in an increased one.
Speaking of anthropology journals, there's an article in "American Journal of Human Biology" (or something like that) this month on how married women hit menopause later in life than single women. They postulated that it was a pheromonal thing, but I'm not sure if they controlled for obvious confonders (like parity, etc.) or not.
Another article in American Journal of Epidemiology back in May said that parity (number of kids you've had) and prior oral contraceptive use were both associated with a significantly older age at menopause. This makes biological sense, as both pregnancy and birth control pills put the woman's biological clock on a "temporary hold" in the same manner. General "bad health" risk factors like smoking, heart disease, and poverty are also associated with earlier menopause. As these are all related to the biological aging process, this also makes sense.
If the mean age at natural menopause is increasing, it could have several implications for society.
1) It's likely that a greater number of children would be born to "older" mothers (i.e., those over 40). There could then be an increase in the number of children born with birth defects such as Down Syndrome that are associated with maternal age.
2) Currently, many women have children before they feel truly ready because they are afraid of "waiting until it's too late". If the span of potential childbearing years widened, the average maternal age at first birth might increase.
3) It's possible that retirement age might have to be raised. If people are having children later in life, it's likely that they will need to keep working later in life in order to financially support the children and themselves.
4) If the age at menopause increases, women will probably live longer. Until menopause, estrogen protects women to a degree against many of the health problems that occur in men (i.e., heart disease). There are many medical conditions that are significantly more likely to develop after menopause than before.
5) Menopause can also affect a woman's interest in sex. If we reached a point in society where women maintained sexual potency/virility/interest significantly later in life then men, that could cause some problems. This would be further exaggerated by #4, above, if the lifepsan gap continued to widen between men and women. I know one sociologist who believes that it will begin to become more acceptable for older women to have same-sex relationships, especially widows.
What do you think?
Aaron O'Keefe the anti-pajama man (ACE) Posted Jul 15, 2001
hmmmm. . .I require time to formulate my thoughts as far as teh anthro intent of the journal. . .I did though learn that the issue is far more complex than I thought. . .so I will hit ya back once I refer to the journal
Mikey the Humming Mouse - A3938628 Learn More About the Edited Guide! Posted Jul 15, 2001
PS - If you want to look through some stuff that I actually wrote, take a look at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/h2g2/guide/A570296
Have a good weekend!
Aaron O'Keefe the anti-pajama man (ACE) Posted Jul 15, 2001
It looks like it is going to take me longer than I expected to get back to you as I am moving from GA to NY this week and I am up to my left eyebrow in stuff ta do. . .
But fear not, I shall return
Aaron O'Keefe the anti-pajama man (ACE) Posted Jul 28, 2001
I am back
In this journal that I get, it is basically stating that due to post-contact cultures (taht is the cultures that have been in contact with westernized cultures) women are hitting menapause much later. Understandable given the modern medicine and the lessening extremes of their environment. But on the flip side to this, these cultures, mainly patriarchal ones, the breeding time is still the same. MEn typically will reject procreation with a woman if she is to old. . .regardless of the capability. Course in these types of cultures ethnographic evidence supports the shying away of women who are ovulating. . .conjecture feels that these people feel it a dirty thing or some kind of punishment. Even to the point of self abuse on the womans part. But back to the point, even with the lengthening of child bearing years, these post contact cultures still live by the already established age precedent.
Key: Complain about this post
- 1: Aaron O'Keefe the anti-pajama man (ACE) (Jul 14, 2001)
- 2: Mikey the Humming Mouse - A3938628 Learn More About the Edited Guide! (Jul 14, 2001)
- 3: Aaron O'Keefe the anti-pajama man (ACE) (Jul 15, 2001)
- 4: Mikey the Humming Mouse - A3938628 Learn More About the Edited Guide! (Jul 15, 2001)
- 5: Aaron O'Keefe the anti-pajama man (ACE) (Jul 15, 2001)
- 6: Aaron O'Keefe the anti-pajama man (ACE) (Jul 28, 2001)