A Potential Pause on Menopause?

As we move into the future, scientists speculate that menopause may be progressively delayed or it could even stop all together.

As our behavioral patterns change moving into the future, it is likely that inevitable processes like menopause will also change. Evolutionary biologists are beginning to theorize that as women start to have children later in life, menopause may become increasingly delayed to the point that it ceases all together. In this article, we’ll discuss the answers to the following questions:

  • What are the current scientific opinions of menopause?
  • What is the future of menopause?
  • When exactly will these changes happen, and who will be affected?

What Are the Current Scientific Opinions of Menopause?

Our behavioral patterns can change menopause over time

Though menopause has come to feel like an inevitability for women over time, scientists are starting to think that it may all just be the result of genetic anomalies due to our behavior. It is thought that in general, men have historically preferred younger mates, meaning that around midlife, women were no longer reproducing. Because of this, it’s possible that older women acquired genetic mutations associated with infertility. This, in essence, became what women now experience as menopause. This evolutionary theory has formed the basis for the idea that just as menopause has developed due to this history of human behavior, it may just as easily start to change along with our new behavioral patterns. 

DNA, the material that is home to human genes capable of possessing alterations that can modify how processes like menopause affect women of the future.
As scientists think more about the genetic implications of behavioral changes, menopause may indeed be changing in the near future. Though menopause has come to be a pretty inevitable process for women, it is very possible that our changes in behavior could delay or even stop the process all together.

What is the Future of Menopause?

Menopause may one day cease to exist

As previously mentioned, menopause is thought to largely relate to human behavioral patterns. Scientists are therefore speculating that as we move into the future, menopause might become more and more delayed. At some point, it may even fail to happen all together. So, what behavioral patterns are changing that have the ability to drive such major genetic changes? This change that could largely impact the occurrence of this delay in menopause is that women are starting to delay childbirth. As we have moved further into the future, women have started having children relatively later in life for a variety of reasons. These reasons include:

  • Scientific advancements. Not only has healthcare in general improved drastically over the years, but various medical and genetic testing procedures that can impact decisions related to pregnancy have become more widely available. These healthcare advancements have therefore allowed women to acquire a greater control over their decisions related to having children. 
  • Changing social values. Social values within society are evolving all the time as we progress into the future. Statistics show that many women are choosing to delay the reproductive process and have children later in life. Due to this, it is expected that nature might begin to genetically select for longer fertility in women. Right now, the approximate age window for the onset of menopause is around 45 to 60 years old. However, scientists propose that this window may actually shift to progressively later years. If the trend continues, we may even reach a point where menopause no longer exists. 
A woman who doesn't appear to be very young in age holds her baby.
As women have children relatively later in life, menopause may also begin to shift to a later point in life. Whereas over time natural selection has potentially resulted in genetic anomalies responsible for the infertility trend we see with menopause, women’s behavioral changes might actually result in gene selection that promotes longer fertility.

When Exactly Will These Changes Happen, and Who Will Be Affected?

Differences might be noticeable within the span of a generation

One important note based on more recent research is that there are still major variations in the onset of menopause among women. In addition, studies that have looked at women of a variety of ethnicities have shown that there does not seem to be any correlations between onset of menopause and ethnicity. These results support the idea that menopause is indeed evolving throughout the entire human species, and as we move into the future, these genetic changes are likely to have more broad effects rather than on any specific ethnic group. It is hypothesized that the difference in menopause onset might become evident within the span of a generation. With later-life mothers passing their traits to their children, a continual trend delaying menopause may phase it out entirely. 

A diverse group of women stand together, raising their arms in an empowered stance.
As of now, there does not appear to be any particular trends in terms of ethnicity when it comes to the variations in menopause onset in women. This suggests that menopause is a continuously evolving trait that still has the capability to change a lot as we progress into the future. If the trend occurs and continues, delaying menopause more and more, it is possible that within the span of a generation we could observe some major differences. 

The human species has certainly seen many genetic variations surface over time as a result of changes in our behavioral patterns. Menopause has therefore more recently been considered a good candidate for this type of change rather than a continuously guaranteed process. As women become more empowered in their decisions related to pregnancy, it is likely that the trend of having children later in life may have a profound effect on menopause. Though we do not have an exact idea as to the future of menopause, there is a possibility that we may eventually see a day where menopause is officially a thing of the past. 

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