Were there evolutionary advantages to premenstrual syndrome?

Michael R. Gillings*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)
97 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) affects up to 80% of women, often leading to significant personal, social and economic costs. When apparently maladaptive states are widespread, they sometimes confer a hidden advantage, or did so in our evolutionary past. We suggest that PMS had a selective advantage because it increased the chance that infertile pair bonds would dissolve, thus improving the reproductive outcomes of women in such partnerships. We confirm predictions arising from the hypothesis: PMS has high heritability; gene variants associated with PMS can be identified; animosity exhibited during PMS is preferentially directed at current partners; and behaviours exhibited during PMS may increase the chance of finding a new partner. Under this view, the prevalence of PMS might result from genes and behaviours that are adaptive in some societies, but are potentially less appropriate in modern cultures. Understanding this evolutionary mismatch might help depathologize PMS, and suggests solutions, including the choice to use cycle-stopping contraception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)897-904
Number of pages8
JournalEvolutionary Applications
Volume7
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2014. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher. Evolutionary applications, http://doi.org/10.1111/eva.12190

Keywords

  • Behavioural genomics
  • Evolutionary medicine
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Human population
  • Neurotransmitter receptors
  • Sex hormones
  • Women's health

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