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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Why men DON'T have a menopause

15th May 2012, 17:15 to 18:15, Dowrick Suite, Trevelyan College, Professor Lynnette Sievert

When Dick Van Dyke, aged 86, married on February 29th, 2012, the world worried not about his biological clock, but that of his 40-year-old bride.  This lecture investigates why, when it comes to reproducing, men are more like fish while women follow a pattern seen only in mammals and birds.

To understand these gendered patterns, we will follow the evolutionary history of reproduction, from fish and amphibians to early primates and, finally, to our own species, Homo sapiens. Along the way, we will consider the controversial results from one laboratory that suggest women are a little more like men than we previously thought. Women may be able to make new eggs from scratch, rather than relying on finite ovarian stores. We will also consider why a long post-reproductive life (the "real" menopause) was selected for among women, while men retained the capacity to make babies throughout their lifespan. Although a "male menopause" is periodically popularized by the media, and information about "male menopause" is easy to find on the web, this lecture will clarify the differences between the universal loss of fertility in women and the idiosyncratic changes characteristic of aging men.

Contact enquiries.ias@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.