Evolutionary perspective on women’s reproduction and health
Reproductive hormones are important not only for fertility, but are also crucial for many aspects of women’s health. Levels of these hormones are influenced by genetic, developmental and lifestyle factors, and significant variation in hormone levels is observed among women and among populations. If there is so much variation, how do we know what is normal and what is outside the norm? While medical science and practice base their standards for “normal” on hormone levels recorded in modern, industrial populations, studies in reproductive ecology suggest that these levels are extreme and very different from what our ancestors experienced. Evolutionary approach to health offers yet another perspective: we should understand that levels of hormones that are optimal for fertility are not necessarily optimal for disease-free life.