Environmental effects on human reproduction

Published on November 30, 2023   57 min

A selection of talks on Physiology & Anatomy

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Hello, I'm Gillian Bentley and I'm a Professor of Biological Anthropology at Durham University. I'm going to be talking about environmental effects on human reproduction.
The purpose of my talk is going to be to discuss environmental effects on human reproduction. I'm going to focus mainly on females because that's the gender that I have worked with for most of my research. I'm also going to place the talk within the framework of evolutionary medicine, life history theory and public health. I'm going to be discussing the health implications versus the adaptive implications of these environmental effects on human reproduction. Also, I'll talk about how these effects might be translated quickly into human physiology.
What is life history theory? Basically, this theory argues that all of our energy is divided between different components such as growth of whatever species you're talking about during a childhood or juvenile period, maintenance which is how you just maintain yourself from day to day. That does include immune function as well, which is a very important component for every species. Then reproduction,a which generally happens during adulthood. These allocations among growth, maintenance, including immune function, and reproduction often involve trade offs. These can be particularly prominent when you are talking about individuals that might live in harsh and stressful environments.
In talking about environmental effects on human reproduction these include not only the physical effects of the environment, it might be something like harsh workloads, nutritional stresses, but also the social effects on human reproduction. Many disciplines are interested in these environmental effects. This can include medicine, clinicians are obviously very concerned with what might affect reproductive function. Toxicologists might look at how pollutants for example, in the environment can affect reproduction. Physiologists are interested in the basic workings of the reproductive system. Then social scientists as well often look at the components of lifestyle and the complete social environment that can affect reproduction as well. Then human biologists that overlap significantly with all of these other disciplines, are those who are concerned with human reproduction and reproductive ecology. In looking at the environmental effects