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MenoPause Blog

Why Don’t Men Have Menopause?

by JoAnn Pinkerton | Mar 08, 2017

We're pleased to have a guest post from Dr. Lynnette Leidy Sievert.

Lynnette Leidy Sievert, BSN, PhD
NAMS Member

Mick Jagger is in his seventies and has just fathered a new baby. Why don’t men have menopause? Because men are like fish. From an evolutionary perspective, human anatomy and physiology have been shaped over a long period of time by gradual processes such as mutation and natural selection. Humans are vertebrates, and like all vertebrates, we have a lot in common with fish—for example, our bilateral symmetry (two arms, two legs). In terms of reproduction, male fish continue to make sperm from stem cells in their testes, and female fish continue to make eggs from stem cells in their ovaries. This production of new sperm and new eggs continues throughout their entire lives. Humans are also tetrapods (four-limbed animals), and we share a lot in common with amphibians—for example, the ability to breathe air. In terms of reproduction, male and female amphibians continue to make sperm and eggs from stem cells all their lives. Humans are also mammals, and like all mammals, we maintain a constant internal temperature. In terms of reproduction, female mammals do not continue to make eggs across the entire lifespan. Unlike fish, amphibians, and most reptiles, female mammals make all of the eggs they will ever have in their ovaries right away, during fetal development or shortly after birth. This is why only female mammals can have a menopause: menopause is “uncovered” by longevity in mammals when females outlive their egg supply. Some research suggests that stem cells can persist in the ovaries of female mice and humans for some time after birth, but that doesn’t change the fact that female humans eventually run out of eggs. Unlike female mammals that evolved a new reproductive strategy, male mammals conserved the pattern of fish, producing new sperm all their lives. Although some men experience age-related changes in their semen and sperm, it is not surprising from an evolutionary perspective that men (eg, Mick Jagger) can father children into their seventies and beyond.

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Executive Director


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