“Use it or lose it,” according to researchers at the University of Sheffield. They are actually studying past marriage patterns in order to illustrate how the evolution of age-patterns in fertility.

Duncan Gillespie, Dr. Virpi Lummaa and Dr. Andrew Russell, from the University’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, went as far back as 18th and 19th century Finnish marriage and birth records from churches to check out the patterns. During those centuries, virtually everyone got married and divorce was unheard of. They chose 1,591 women to study.

Women from 30-35 years old were the most likely to be married. Younger women tended to marry wealthier men giving them a child bearing advantage but also the vulnerability of becoming a widow. Once widowed with a significant number of children, the likelihood of remarriage dropped and childbearing in advanced years was not likely.

Today it’s been turned around. Women are marrying later and having children later. Casual relationships producing children and divorce are common. There is a thought that the natural selection process could grow for older women improving their chances of bearing children later in life. Of course, these changes would happen over multiple generations.

“In today’s society, family-building appears to be increasingly postponed to older ages, when relatively few women in our evolutionary past would have had the opportunity to reproduce. As a result, this could lead to future evolutionary improvements in old-age female fertility,” said Gillespie.

Source: University of Sheffield, Science Daily


The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. See our Legal Statement for more details.

Fertility Clinics Directory

Find a Fertility Clinic

If you or a loved one is suffering from infertility and needs help conceiving then we are here to offer help in any way we can. We have over 450 Fertility Clinics listed on our Directory. Click here to search for a Fertility Clinic that is right for you.