Were there evolutionary advantages to premenstrual syndrome?
Version of Record online: 11 AUG 2014
© 2014 The Authors. Evolutionary Applications published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Volume 7, Issue 8, pages 897–904, September 2014
How to Cite
Gillings, M. R. (2014), Were there evolutionary advantages to premenstrual syndrome?. Evolutionary Applications, 7: 897–904. doi: 10.1111/eva.12190
- Issue online: 29 SEP 2014
- Version of Record online: 11 AUG 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 1 JUL 2014
- Manuscript Received: 29 APR 2014
- behavioural genomics;
- evolutionary medicine;
- evolutionary psychology;
- human population;
- neurotransmitter receptors;
- sex hormones;
- women's health
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.