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  #1  
Old 01-02-2003, 01:31 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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What's the purpose of painful menstrual cramps?

I'm not asking why they're painful, I know it's due to nerve endings being affected during uterine cramps, but I want to know what purpose the pain serves.

If I understand what I was taught in various biology and anatomy classes, we feel pain so that the brain can alert us that there's something wrong with our bodies. The something wrong is almost always injury or sickness/infection; in the first case the pain tells us to stop doing whatever it is that is aggravating the injury, in the second it lets us know that there's a problem.

So why then are many women's menstrual cramps painful? The body is doing it's job correctly, and we're neither sick nor injured when cramps occur. And are there any other normal bodily functions, besides childbirth, that are painful?
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  #2  
Old 01-02-2003, 01:47 PM
Padeye Padeye is offline
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I think you're confusing the logic a bit. Pain may serve a purpose in most cases but this is as a coincience. Evolution is a passive design process. Beneficial traits tend to stay in a species and poor traits tend to dissapear. To say that pain can alert us to problems or stop behavior is correct but IMHO it's wrong to say all pain must exist for those reasons. Menstural pain may serve no purpose and if it has a neutral impact on evelution there is no reason for it to dissapear from humans.
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  #3  
Old 01-02-2003, 03:03 PM
X~Slayer(ALE) X~Slayer(ALE) is offline
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I would think the pain is an overt signal for the female to forcibly reject any sexual advances a male might make during that time. Humans do not have an oestrus period. They can be sexual anytime of the year. I think this pain is a "stop for maintenance" signal and bilogically speaking if it wasnt painful, females may just ignore it and have sex anyways. Prolly why they get real bitchy at this time to emphasize the fact that no sex really means no sex.
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Old 01-02-2003, 03:04 PM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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Whatever doesn't kill you before you get a chance to reproduce will stick around. No reason, but it's not detrimental enough to be selected against.
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  #5  
Old 01-02-2003, 03:40 PM
beajerry beajerry is offline
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The cramps are, of course, a reminder to torture all males within a 100 yard vicinity.
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  #6  
Old 01-02-2003, 04:33 PM
capybara capybara is offline
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I thought it had to do with original sin-- a reminder of Eve's misdeed int he garden of Eden. What?
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  #7  
Old 01-02-2003, 05:10 PM
BuckleberryFerry BuckleberryFerry is offline
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I was about to say the exact same thing, capybara!
Quote:
Genesis 3:16
To the woman he said, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."
Not sure if that applies to menstrual cramps, though that is sort of child-bearing related.

~Ferry
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  #8  
Old 01-02-2003, 05:42 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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I agree with Padeye, the logic is a bit skewed. Pain evolved as a signal it's ture. Particularly with internal organs the pain tends to be designed to stop the victim moving around and rupturing or tearing bloated or damaged organs. A good survival trait that.

As a result the uterus got the same nerve endings as the other organs. It might even serve a purpose if during pregnancy a woman curls up in a fetal ball with hot water bottle when there is inflammation.

The problem is that humans aren't really meant to ever get periods much. For the vast majority of our history a woman existed as either pregnant or breastfeeding. The actual number of periods hse had was probably only a couple of dozen ove rher entire lifespan. The risk of injury to the mother or the child from disabling the nerves in the uterus is higher than the risk of being eaten because a woman is disabled with cramps.

As a result of this no mechanism has ever evolved to reduce period pain. There was no great need and the easy solutions evolutionarily caused more harm than good.
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Old 01-02-2003, 06:36 PM
HennaDancer HennaDancer is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by X~Slayer(ALE)
I would think the pain is an overt signal for the female to forcibly reject any sexual advances a male might make during that time. Humans do not have an oestrus period. They can be sexual anytime of the year. I think this pain is a "stop for maintenance" signal and bilogically speaking if it wasnt painful, females may just ignore it and have sex anyways. Prolly why they get real bitchy at this time to emphasize the fact that no sex really means no sex.
But sex is the only thing that makes the cramps go away. Well, sex or 800mg of ibuprofen. A good solid orgasm and they're down to a minor twinge, but failing that I'm in bed for the day with my heating pad.
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  #10  
Old 01-02-2003, 06:38 PM
X~Slayer(ALE) X~Slayer(ALE) is offline
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See, this is what happens when nature is not allowed to take its course. Most women do not suffer from menstral cramps in such severity as to render her "curled up in a ball". If this happened 50,000 years ago, most of the tribe would consider her possessed and toss her out, and as you say nature (and the passing sabertooth) will do its thing.

African Masai women dont go looking for the midol every month. They regard it as a discomfort, not an overbearing pain. Some women just do not have the uterial fortitude to survive in the wild.

In defense of all women however, IMHO if men had the monthly visitor, I think overpopulation would never become a problem.
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  #11  
Old 01-02-2003, 06:40 PM
X~Slayer(ALE) X~Slayer(ALE) is offline
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Originally posted by HennaDancer
But sex is the only thing that makes the cramps go away. Well, sex or 800mg of ibuprofen. A good solid orgasm and they're down to a minor twinge, but failing that I'm in bed for the day with my heating pad.

uh feel free to call me whenever you have that problem, dear.



I have lots of ibuprofren....
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  #12  
Old 01-02-2003, 06:55 PM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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What HennaDancer say's has been told to me by a couple of women. Not all, though. You kinda got that male mantis thing going if you approach without permission.
But, that being said, generosity can have its rewards.
As far as the OP, I agree with Blake.
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  #13  
Old 01-02-2003, 07:37 PM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is offline
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The pain is designed to discourage women from having periods. ie. spend as much of their life as possible pregnant thus increasing the population of the species .
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  #14  
Old 01-02-2003, 08:05 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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African Masai women dont go looking for the midol every month. They regard it as a discomfort, not an overbearing pain.
Is that true? It sound slike an old husband's tale to me.

In many of these societies women don' stop because they aren' allowed to or ca't afford to. It's not a case of them feeling less pain, just a case of not being able to give into it without getting fired/beaten/starving/having children taken.

In all fairness the same is true of men when they get injured. I've just never heard anyone suggest that a Masai man with his leg chewed orf bya tiger who herds his cattle the next day because he will starve otherwise is doing it because 'he regards it as a discomfort, not an overbearing pain'. It hurts him just as much as it hurts me, but he doesn't have the option of sick leave.

I suspect exactly the same is true of the women. They work despite the period pain, not because they don't feel it just as severely.
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  #15  
Old 01-02-2003, 08:13 PM
psychonaut psychonaut is online now
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IANABiologist, but here's my lay theory. Since evolution directs organisms to reproduce, and since sexual behaviour requires time and energy, it would make sense that some animals have evolved traits which restrict sexual behaviour to times when conception is most likely to be successful. IIRC, conception in humans is less likely to occur during menstruation than at other times of the cycle. Menstrual pain, or any sort of pain at all, is likely to discourage women from engaging in physical activity, such as sex. Ergo, menstrual pain is nature's way of minimizing fruitless sex and maximizing the chances of conception.
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  #16  
Old 01-02-2003, 08:21 PM
HennaDancer HennaDancer is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by X~Slayer(ALE)
African Masai women dont go looking for the midol every month. They regard it as a discomfort, not an overbearing pain. Some women just do not have the uterial fortitude to survive in the wild.
I'm convinced that both painful cramps at a period and painful childbirth are a product of Victorian civilization. WOmen in "primitive" countries don't go through all this.
My first few periods were pretty benign- until I realized that my Southern Mom would let me stay home from school and eat chocolate ice cream all day if I told her I was starting my period. It got to be a habit.
I also have evidence through my dancing that birth is INTENSE but not necessarily painful, unless you've never moved those muscles and you freak because everyone tells you it's agony.
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  #17  
Old 01-02-2003, 08:22 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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That's a bit of a cockeyed way of doint it isn't it psychonaut? Other animals just have signals that tell the males quit blatently when the females are fertile. This serves the purpose of minimizing fruitless sex and maximizing the chances of conception far better than menstrual pain and doesn't reduce the female's ability to find food, care for existing young or avoid predators the way that menstrual pain does.

In fact the chimpanzee branch of the ape family seems to have purposely evolved away from such signals and timing for intercourse in favour of its benefits as a social tool. Why would humans go back and re-evolve a mechanism for timing intercourse? And why wold they do it in such a dangerous and inefficient maner? It doesn't in any way prevent intercourse from occuring during infertle periods, only reduces it during the few days of the pain. Unproductive intercourse still occurs during the othr 2 1/2-3 weeks of the cycle.
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  #18  
Old 01-02-2003, 08:26 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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I'm convinced that both painful cramps at a period and painful childbirth are a product of Victorian civilization.
Then how exactly do you explain the numerous references to painful, prolonged and even fatal hildbirth dating back further than 150 yers ago? Clearly painful childbirth has alway been the norm if you believe the writing that survive.
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  #19  
Old 01-02-2003, 08:47 PM
psychonaut psychonaut is online now
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Originally posted by Blake
That's a bit of a cockeyed way of doint it isn't it psychonaut?
Since when has nature made a point of avoiding cockeyed solutions to biological problems? Why didn't evolution instantly dispense with human appendices the moment they became vestigial?

Quote:
Other animals just have signals that tell the males quit blatently when the females are fertile. This serves the purpose of minimizing fruitless sex and maximizing the chances of conception far better than menstrual pain and doesn't reduce the female's ability to find food, care for existing young or avoid predators the way that menstrual pain does.
There may well be a reason why menstrual pain is not entirely incapacitating. It may be that it's intended to be light enough not to interfere with essential behaviour such as predator-evading and child-rearing, but still severe enough to discourage unnecessary recreational activity. Part of your argument also presupposes that physically-intensive food-gathering was a primary activity of prehistoric women, whereas our dimorphic anatomy suggests otherwise.

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In fact the chimpanzee branch of the ape family seems to have purposely evolved away from such signals and timing for intercourse in favour of its benefits as a social tool. Why would humans go back and re-evolve a mechanism for timing intercourse? And why wold they do it in such a dangerous and inefficient maner?
You are committing the common fallacy of assuming that humans are descended from chimpanzees, when in fact they are descended from a common ancestor which may well have employed this sort of timing mechanism. What makes you think that humans and chimps could not have taken divergent evolutionary paths with respect to this trait?

Quote:
It doesn't in any way prevent intercourse from occuring during infertle periods, only reduces it during the few days of the pain. Unproductive intercourse still occurs during the othr 2 1/2-3 weeks of the cycle.
No one said that nature's mechanisms were perfect, or that our sophisticated brains are incapable of overriding them. The warning colours exhibited by many insects do not prevent them from getting occasionally eaten by predators anyway. Humans' natural fear of heights does not prevent hundreds of people from jumping out of airplanes every day. If a mechanism serves a useful purpose even only some of the time, then it's a good bet it's going to get passed on to subsequent generations.
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  #20  
Old 01-02-2003, 08:49 PM
Darwin's Finch Darwin's Finch is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by psychonaut
Menstrual pain, or any sort of pain at all, is likely to discourage women from engaging in physical activity, such as sex. Ergo, menstrual pain is nature's way of minimizing fruitless sex and maximizing the chances of conception.
In order for such a theory to pan out, you would have to show that women who do not experience painful cramps are somehow selected against (thereby preserving the "painful cramps" pool). Such is not likely to happen since both the "burdened by cramps" and the "none-to-mild cramping" women would have equal results if sex were to occur during their periods: no fertilization, therefore no offspring.

Alternatively, you could attempt to show that those who do have cramps are somehow reproductively favored. But, during menstruation, cramps or no, fertilization is unlikely. So there isn't any likely to be any significant reproductive difference between those who have them and those who don't.

If anything, I am inclined to believe that painful menstruation is more prevalent because of modern medical advances, which make such things less detrimental than they might otherwise be. If the cause is genetic (e.g., a gene responsible for excessive prostaglandin production is involved), then those women who are affected but do not succumb will pass it on. And those who succumb will likely be somewhat rare in areas where such medical treatments are available.
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  #21  
Old 01-02-2003, 09:04 PM
BaldTaco BaldTaco is offline
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And are there any other normal bodily functions, besides childbirth, that are painful?
Generally, taking a crap involves some level of pain.
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  #22  
Old 01-02-2003, 09:08 PM
psychonaut psychonaut is online now
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Quote:
Originally posted by Darwin's Finch
In order for such a theory to pan out, you would have to show that women who do not experience painful cramps are somehow selected against (thereby preserving the "painful cramps" pool).
Alternatively, you could attempt to show that those who do have cramps are somehow reproductively favored.
I favour a third explanation: that menstrual cramping may have been a selective factor in the past, but since the advent of agriculture has been reduced to a vestigial feature. Back when our ancestors spent nearly the entirety of their time hunting, gathering food, evading predators, etc. there was little or no time left over for recreational activity such as fruitless sex. Couples who spent their time having unproductive sex when they ought to have been finding food had less of a chance of producing children and therefore passing on their genes. However, once agriculture was established, people were no longer living hand-to-mouth, and more food could be produced than was necessary to sustain the population. This allowed us to devote more time to recreation and technological development without compromising the survival of genetic material. Tens of thousands of years ago, menstrual cramps may have been much more prevalent in the general population than they are today, and as they no longer play a role in our evolutionary survival, they are becoming degenerate and less pronounced.
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  #23  
Old 01-02-2003, 09:11 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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Quote:
Why didn't evolution instantly dispense with human appendices the moment they became vestigial?
Because it never became vestigial. The appendix still serves several useful functions. Thatís why it still exists despite incapacitating and even killing carriers.

Quote:
Part of your argument also presupposes that physically-intensive food-gathering was a primary activity of prehistoric women
No, it presupposes that food gathering, caring for children and avoidance of predators increased the odds of successful reproduction, nothing more, nothing less. To suggest that this isnít true is a bit far fetched isnít it?

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You are committing the common fallacy of assuming that humans are descended from chimpanzees
No Iím not, I never said or implied any such thing. I referred to the chimpanzee branch of the ape family, which includes chimps, bonobo, australopithecines and various Homo species. At no stage and in no way did I ever state or imply that humans are descended from chimps.

You have failed to comprehend what I quite clearly posted.

[quote]If a mechanism serves a useful purpose even only some of the time, then it's a good bet it's going to get passed on to subsequent generations.[quote]

True, and if it the useful purpose is inefficiently performed and outweighed by the incapacitation of the individual it wonít be passed on. Since pain could only possibly have the benefit of delaying (and never actually preventing) STD transmission it seems a little improbable that incapacitating period pain would ever compensate for the risk at which it places the carrier. Mild period pain or psychic irritability I just might believe but incapacitation just doesnít make sense on so many levels.
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  #24  
Old 01-02-2003, 09:16 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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Back when our ancestors spent nearly the entirety of their time hunting, gathering food, evading predators, etc. there was little or no time left over for recreational activity such as fruitless sex.
Theonly problem is that hunter-gatherers spend less time obtaining food than do agriculturalists. They have far more leisure time thn agriculturalists and as such more time for pointless copulation.

Added to this 1 hour/day spent in the act of copulation wouldnever place an individual at more risk than 3-10 days of incapacitting pain.

Added to this period pain stops during prgancy and breastfeeding, which woul have been the normal state of thes ehunter-gatherer wouldn't it? So the mechanism would fail the vast majority of the time.
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  #25  
Old 01-02-2003, 09:28 PM
Darwin's Finch Darwin's Finch is offline
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Originally posted by psychonaut
I favour a third explanation: that menstrual cramping may have been a selective factor in the past, but since the advent of agriculture has been reduced to a vestigial feature.
However, you haven't explained how it could serve as a selective factor. Fruitless sex only results in no offspring; it doesn't result in better- or worse-adapted offspring, or an increased (or even a decreased) possibility of having offspring. Whether the menstrual cramps are present or not, the effect is the same: no offspring during menstruation. As such, they cannot serve any selective function beyond possibly weeding out those females with low pain thresholds (in that those who were severely affected were more likely to be eaten by a sabretooth or some such). But then, that would be true of just about any pain.
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  #26  
Old 01-02-2003, 09:36 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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[quote}And are there any other normal bodily functions, besides childbirth, that are painful?[/quote]

Define normal? Physical exercise is often painful. Arthritis seems to be a normal bodily function and is painful. Passing kidney stones etc. The difference is that we consider most of these to be abnormal these days and avoid them through medicine and surgery. We tend to avoid that for childbirth in many cases.


Quote:
since the advent of agriculture has been reduced to a vestigial feature. Back when our ancestors spent nearly the entirety of their time hunting, gathering food, evading predators, etc. there was little or no time left over for recreational activity such as fruitless sex.
www.msu.edu/course/prr/213/Russell,ch5.doc

As shown in figure 5.1, the hours per day spent by one of the groups in hunting and gathering activities were not great. The most obvious conclusion Sahlins made from the data was that the people did not have to work hard to survive. The average length of time each person spent per day collecting and preparing food was three to four hours.

http://www.webcom.com/wildcat/ac01.htm

Two famous explorers of the earlier nineteenth century made estimates of the same magnitude for the aborigines' subsistence activities: two to four hours a day (Eyre, 1845, 2, pp. 252, 255; Grey, 1841, 2, pp. 26163). Slash-and-burn agriculture, incidentally, may be more labor-intensive: Conklin, for example, figures that 1,200 man hours per adult per year are given among the Hanunůo simply to agriculture (Conklin, 1957, p. 151: this figure excludes other food-connected activities, whereas the Australian data include time spent in the preparation of food as well as its acquisition). The Arnhem Landers' punctuation of steady work with sustained idleness is also widely attested in Australia and beyond. In Lee's paper he reported that productive members of !Kung Bushman camps spend two to three days per week in subsistence. We have heard similar comments in other papers at the symposium. Hadza women were said to work two hours per day on the average in gathering food, and one concludes from James Woodburn's excellent film that Hadza men are much more preoccupied with games of chance than chances of game (Woodburn and Hudson, 1966).


http://www.lrainc.com/swtaboo/stalkers/em_pp.html
Gardner (1972, p. 414), in describing the Paliyans, a foraging people of India, has pointed out that, "In normal times Paliyan men and women spend a bare three to four hours a day obtaining food and evidence no anxiety whatsoever about its supply." Single individuals are able to feed themselves easily, and married couples may not feed each other. ÖÖ similar impression is left by descriptions of other tropical hunter-gatherer societies. Lee & DeVore's famous Man the Hunter is often summarized as showing that most calories come from gathering, not hunting, that most gathering is done by females, and that hunter-gatherers need spend only a relatively small part of their time in gathering.
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Old 01-02-2003, 09:36 PM
Essured Essured is offline
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The body is doing it's job correctly, and we're neither sick nor injured when cramps occur.
Are there any figures on what proportion of the female population suffer from no menstrual pain ?

I could just as easily theorise that the women who have menstrual pain aren't as healthy as those who don't. There does seem to be studies being done that indicate environmental factors play a large role in menstrual pain severity, e.g food and cigarette smoke.
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Old 01-02-2003, 09:39 PM
psychonaut psychonaut is online now
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Originally posted by Blake
Theonly problem is that hunter-gatherers spend less time obtaining food than do agriculturalists. They have far more leisure time thn agriculturalists and as such more time for pointless copulation.
In some environments, perhaps, but I very much doubt that this was the case for some of the less hospitable biomes colonized by humans and their ancestors. Anyone can laze about in some tropical paradise, feeding off of fruit that falls from the trees, but sustaining oneself in an arctic, alpine, or even temperate climate requires considerably greater effort, especially in the winter. Perhaps intensity of menstrual pain correlates with geography...? I wonder if there is a significant difference between, say, the Polynesians and the Inuit.

There is the further point that practiced agriculturalists are usually guaranteed a steady and replenishable supply of food, whereas hunter-gatherers often are not, and so are at greater risk of starvation. Hence, over broad periods of time, the agriculturalists are more at liberty to engage in unreproductive sex than are hunter-gatherers.

Quote:
Added to this 1 hour/day spent in the act of copulation wouldnever place an individual at more risk than 3-10 days of incapacitting pain.
As I and others have mentioned, the pain is not typically incapacitating, but rather discomforting. If it were literally incapacitating and as long in duration as you claim, surely today's employed women would call in sick 10 days a month.

Quote:
Added to this period pain stops during prgancy and breastfeeding, which woul have been the normal state of thes ehunter-gatherer wouldn't it? So the mechanism would fail the vast majority of the time.
I admit this is a good argument against my theory, since the hunter-gatherers will presumably continue to have sex during the female's pregnancy. One might speculate, though, that the female's receptiveness to (purely recreational) sex for a continuous nine months is the couple's "reward" for having successfully conceived in the first place. Maybe that's stretching it, though.
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  #29  
Old 01-02-2003, 09:52 PM
martin_ibn_martin martin_ibn_martin is offline
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This is actually HennaDancer, jumping in while Martin's in the potty.

Ain't nobody going to stop having sex, regardless of food supply. So long as orgasms are involved, humans are going to Do It.

Also, I've breastfed my two sons and in both cases started my period a scant two months after birth. For those of you not in the know, after you give birth, there's a 4-6 week time during which you have all those periods you missed. Okay, it only seems like that. Anyway, you bleed for over a month. You are not fertile then. I have about 5 weeks of this, then a couple weeks off, then I'm starting back on my regular period. That's completely breastfeeding, on demand. I don't know for sure when my fertility starts back up again but I'm betting I could get knocked up almost as soon as the previous kid was out.
On the other hand, my friend didn't start again until her kid was almost two but still nursing occasionally. Bitch.
My point in this is to say that nursing a child will not keep you from getting pregnant again.
HennaDancer
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Old 01-02-2003, 09:56 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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In some environments, perhaps, but I very much doubt that this was the case for some of the less hospitable biomes
No, it appears to be universal. AT least Iíve never seen any evidence of a place where it isnít true. Itís true of the !kung San of the Kalahari and of the far northern Eskimo, for the aboriginals of the Central Australian Deserts as well as the Malaysian rainforests. I canít think of any more extreme biomes than those. It seems to be universal. In any environment hunter-gatherers spend less time obtaining food than do agriculturalists.
Quote:
There is the further point that practiced agriculturalists are usually guaranteed a steady and replenishable supply of food, whereas hunter-gatherers often are not, and so are at greater risk of starvation.
Which is also not true. Hunter gatherers suffer less from the effects of drought, famine and starvation than do agriculturalists. Far more pre-industrial agriculturalists died of starvation, both absolutely and in percentage terms, than did hunter-gatherers.
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If it were literally incapacitating and as long in duration as you claim, surely today's employed women would call in sick 10 days a month.
Women affected to that degree today use medicines, including oral contraceptives, to reduce the intensity, thatís why they donít call in sick. Also 10 days is the extreme and I mostly associated with the unusual 60 day menstrual cycle.

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the female's receptiveness to (purely recreational) sex for a continuous nine months is the couple's "reward" for having successfully conceived in the first place.
Yes, but if recreational sex places individuals at reproductive risk sufficiently to warrant period pain then they would be just as likely to die during intercourse in pregnancy. In the case of the female moreso.
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  #31  
Old 01-02-2003, 09:57 PM
psychonaut psychonaut is online now
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Originally posted by Darwin's Finch
Whether the menstrual cramps are present or not, the effect is the same: no offspring during menstruation... you haven't explained how it could serve as a selective factor.
Yes I have, because time available for sex, which is not necessary for survival of the individual, is exactly equivalent to that time remaining after all more pressing needs are taken care of. In one month, any given individual in a primitive society will have to fulfill certain tasks, which may involve hunting, fishing, gathering food and materials for tools and weapons, construction of shelters from the weather, production of tools and weapons, and fending off predators. A certain amount of time is left over. Since some of the survival tasks can be delayed or time-shifted, it is of greatest benefit to the species as a whole (but not necessarily to the individual) to prefer performing the survival tasks during periods of infertility, leaving more time available for sex during periods of ovulation. One way of encouraging this behaviour is to make the female unreceptive to sex during menstruation, since ovulation is unlikely to be occurring at that time. A non-destructive way of accomplishing this might be to induce mild pain during menstruation, since the intensity would not prevent most women from performing their other duties.
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  #32  
Old 01-02-2003, 10:07 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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time available for sex, which is not necessary for survival of the individual, is exactly equivalent to that time remaining after all more pressing needs are taken care of.
About 20 hours/day then if the anthropologists figures are to be believed. Far more than the time avaialale to modern people or even pre-industrial people.

It hardly sems like time for copulation was ever an issue for humans before we invented agriculture. Maybe there were some small pockets where time was of concern, even after dark, but they must have been tiny and couldn't really have spread any such genetic predisposition to most of the humans on the planet.

Basically it seems to be a good time to bring out the razor. It can simply be explained becuase menstruation wasn't common in pre-industrial females and so it was never an issue. Or we can go with te more complex hypothesis that it served to allocate time.
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Old 01-03-2003, 12:26 AM
CrankyAsAnOldMan CrankyAsAnOldMan is offline
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Originally posted by HennaDancer
I'm convinced that both painful cramps at a period and painful childbirth are a product of Victorian civilization. WOmen in "primitive" countries don't go through all this.
....
I also have evidence through my dancing that birth is INTENSE but not necessarily painful, unless you've never moved those muscles and you freak because everyone tells you it's agony.
Well, some anthropologist are convinced of something else: that painful childbirth is a product of the way human skeletons have evolved as we've walked upright (the pelvis must be a certain shape /size to support the body and the organs) and the fact that fetal heads have to be big to hold all the necessary grey matter. These two things aren't all that compatible (according to this theory). It makes for a tight fit and requires a pretty complex serious of movements to get the baby down and out through the birth canal. It's so tight that babies have to twist and turn and their skull bones get squeezed together during birth. Some women have their tailbones broken because of the fit. That is not a product of Victorian prudery.

It's true that most woment do not exercise many important pelvic muscles (and that doing so might greatly improve some of the discomforts of labor), but the fact is that the cervix simply must be cranked open by the uterine cramps (and the pushing of the baby's head) and that's painful for some women. You can't exercise the cervix.
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