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The decline in the number viable ovarian follicles, which leads to the menopause, is well documented (see Wikipedia), but, from an evolutionary perspective the reasons for its prevalence in humans are unknown.

Only a few other mammals* are known to exhibit menopause - including orcas, short-finned pilot whales and chimpanzees.

Menopause is an evolutionary puzzle since an early end to reproduction seems contrary to maximising Darwinian fitness."

Source : BioEssays 23.3

More details BBC, Aug 2016

From an evolutionary perspective, it's very difficult to explain"

* Note : One possible contributing factor is that many other mammals, in the wild with hostile conditions, simply don't survive long enough.

Also see :Ovarian agingplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigOvarian aging

As women age, they experience a decline in reproductive performance leading to menopause (average 51 ยฑ 8 years). This decline is tied to a reduction in the number of ovarian follicles present in the ovaries. The events that lead to to the decline - i.e. ovarian aging - are unknown. The variability of aging could include environmental factors, lifestyle habits and/or genetic factors.

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