Context & Variation

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This blog is written by Dr. Kathryn Clancy, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois, and her specialty is in women's reproductive biology and evolutionary medicine. Kate is a mother, a wife, an athlete, a labor activist, a sister, and a daughter. The main purpose of this blog is to acknowledge that the primary characteristic of women's biology is that it is always changing. This means that narrow interpretations of normal, while pervasive in medicine, should be challenged.

Kate Clancy
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  • September 9, 2011
  • 05:15 PM

Menstruation is just blood and tissue you ended up not using

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

A history of the menotoxin, or menstrual toxin, with broader commentary about culture and bias... Read more »

Finn CA. (1996) Why do women menstruate? Historical and evolutionary review. European journal of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology, 70(1), 3-8. PMID: 9031909  

Reid HE. (1974) Letter: The brass-ring sign. Lancet, 1(7864), 988. PMID: 4133673  

Wilcox AJ, Baird DD, & Weinberg CR. (1999) Time of implantation of the conceptus and loss of pregnancy. The New England journal of medicine, 340(23), 1796-9. PMID: 10362823  

  • July 1, 2011
  • 09:50 PM

Summer of the pill: will the pill mess up my chances at finding my One True Love?

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

Next in the summer of the pill series. This week I deal with research that shows the pill alters women's mate preferences.... Read more »

Bereczkei T, Voros S, Gal A, & Bernath L. (1997) Resources, attractiveness, family commitment; reproductive decisions in human mate choice. Ethology : formerly Zeitschrift fur Tierpsychologie, 103(8), 681-99. PMID: 12293453  

Brinsmead-Stockham K, Johnston L, Miles L, & Neil Macrae C. (2008) Female sexual orientation and menstrual influences on person perception. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44(3), 729-734. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2007.05.003  

Kurzban R, & Weeden J. (2005) HurryDate: Mate preferences in action. Evolution and Human Behavior, 26(3), 227-244. DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2004.08.012  

Pawłowski B, & Dunbar RI. (1999) Impact of market value on human mate choice decisions. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 266(1416), 281-5. PMID: 10081164  

Roberts SC, Gosling LM, Carter V, & Petrie M. (2008) MHC-correlated odour preferences in humans and the use of oral contraceptives. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 275(1652), 2715-22. PMID: 18700206  

Wedekind C, Seebeck T, Bettens F, & Paepke AJ. (1995) MHC-Dependent Mate Preferences in Humans. Proceedings: Biological Sciences, 260(1359), 245-249. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1995.0087  

  • June 21, 2011
  • 10:30 PM

C&V Shorts: Make the most of your time and energy

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

A short post on life history theory as it applies to human societies, menarche, and stature.... Read more »

McIntyre MH, & Kacerosky PM. (2011) Age and size at maturity in women: a norm of reaction?. American journal of human biology : the official journal of the Human Biology Council, 23(3), 305-12. PMID: 21484909  

Walker, R., Gurven, M., Hill, K., Migliano, A., Chagnon, N., De Souza, R., Djurovic, G., Hames, R., Hurtado, A., Kaplan, H.... (2006) Growth rates and life histories in twenty-two small-scale societies. American Journal of Human Biology, 18(3), 295-311. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.20510  

  • June 17, 2011
  • 10:00 AM

Summer of the pill: why do we menstruate?

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

The first in a series on hormonal contraception. This post explores why human women menstruate and how that may impact their contraceptive decisions.... Read more »

  • May 17, 2011
  • 07:04 PM

Do girls steal some of their mother’s beauty? Sex bias in parental investment

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

An examination of a recent paper on maternal breast size after pregnancy, and the Trivers-Willard hypothesis.... Read more »

Jasienska G, Nenko I, & Jasienski M. (2006) Daughters increase longevity of fathers, but daughters and sons equally reduce longevity of mothers. American journal of human biology : the official journal of the Human Biology Council, 18(3), 422-5. PMID: 16634019  

Poretsky L, Seto-Young D, Shrestha A, Dhillon S, Mirjany M, Liu HC, Yih MC, & Rosenwaks Z. (2001) Phosphatidyl-inositol-3 kinase-independent insulin action pathway(s) in the human ovary. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 86(7), 3115-9. PMID: 11443175  

  • April 20, 2011
  • 12:13 PM

AAPA symposium on Evolution through the Life Course: Why we shouldn't prescribe hormonal contraception to twelve year olds

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

A blog version of a talk I gave at an invited symposium at this year's AAPAs, plus some additional thoughts and broader context.... Read more »

D'Antona Ade O, Chelekis JA, D'Antona MF, & Siqueira AD. (2009) Contraceptive discontinuation and non-use in Santarém, Brazilian Amazon. Cadernos de saude publica / Ministerio da Saude, Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz, Escola Nacional de Saude Publica, 25(9), 2021-32. PMID: 19750389  

Feldman PJ, Dunkel-Schetter C, Sandman CA, & Wadhwa PD. (2000) Maternal social support predicts birth weight and fetal growth in human pregnancy. Psychosomatic medicine, 62(5), 715-25. PMID: 11020102  

Fraser IS, & Kovacs GT. (2003) The efficacy of non-contraceptive uses for hormonal contraceptives. The Medical journal of Australia, 178(12), 621-3. PMID: 12797849  

Gerschultz KL, Sucato GS, Hennon TR, Murray PJ, & Gold MA. (2007) Extended cycling of combined hormonal contraceptives in adolescents: physician views and prescribing practices. The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, 40(2), 151-7. PMID: 17259055  

Gupta, N., Corrado, S., & Goldstein, M. (2008) Hormonal Contraception for the Adolescent. Pediatrics in Review, 29(11), 386-397. DOI: 10.1542/pir.29-11-386  

Hawkes, K. (2003) Grandmothers and the evolution of human longevity. American Journal of Human Biology, 15(3), 380-400. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.10156  

KRISHNAMOORTHY, N., SIMPSON, C., TOWNEND, J., HELMS, P., & MCLAY, J. (2008) Adolescent Females and Hormonal Contraception: A Retrospective Study in Primary Care. Journal of Adolescent Health, 42(1), 97-101. DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.06.016  

Marchbanks, P., McDonald, J., Wilson, H., Folger, S., Mandel, M., Daling, J., Bernstein, L., Malone, K., Ursin, G., Strom, B.... (2002) Oral Contraceptives and the Risk of Breast Cancer. New England Journal of Medicine, 346(26), 2025-2032. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa013202  

Modan B, Hartge P, Hirsh-Yechezkel G, Chetrit A, Lubin F, Beller U, Ben-Baruch G, Fishman A, Menczer J, Struewing JP.... (2001) Parity, oral contraceptives, and the risk of ovarian cancer among carriers and noncarriers of a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. The New England journal of medicine, 345(4), 235-40. PMID: 11474660  

Narod, S., Risch, H., Moslehi, R., Dørum, A., Neuhausen, S., Olsson, H., Provencher, D., Radice, P., Evans, G., Bishop, S.... (1998) Oral Contraceptives and the Risk of Hereditary Ovarian Cancer. New England Journal of Medicine, 339(7), 424-428. DOI: 10.1056/NEJM199808133390702  

Ott, M., Adler, N., Millstein, S., Tschann, J., & Ellen, J. (2002) The Trade-Off between Hormonal Contraceptives and Condoms among Adolescents. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 34(1), 6. DOI: 10.2307/3030227  

SMITH, J., GREEN, J., DEGONZALEZ, A., APPLEBY, P., PETO, J., PLUMMER, M., FRANCESCHI, S., & BERAL, V. (2003) Cervical cancer and use of hormonal contraceptives: a systematic review. The Lancet, 361(9364), 1159-1167. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(03)12949-2  

Turner, R., Grindstaff, C., & Phillips, N. (1990) Social Support and Outcome in Teenage Pregnancy. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 31(1), 43. DOI: 10.2307/2137044  

Walker, R., Gurven, M., Hill, K., Migliano, A., Chagnon, N., De Souza, R., Djurovic, G., Hames, R., Hurtado, A., Kaplan, H.... (2006) Growth rates and life histories in twenty-two small-scale societies. American Journal of Human Biology, 18(3), 295-311. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.20510  

  • April 6, 2011
  • 01:00 PM

If I objectify you, will it make you feel bad enough to objectify yourself? On shopping, sexiness and hormones.

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

This post critiques recent work on "sexy" shopping behavior during high and low fertility periods in the menstrual cycle.... Read more »

Durante, KM, Griskevicius, V, Hill, SE, Perilloux, C, & Li, NP. (2011) Ovulation, female competition, and product choice: hormonal influences on consumer behavior. Journal of Consumer Research, 37(6), 921-934. info:/

Fehring, R., Schneider, M., & Raviele, K. (2006) Variability in the Phases of the Menstrual Cycle. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, Neonatal Nursing, 35(3), 376-384. DOI: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2006.00051.x  

  • March 24, 2011
  • 04:01 PM

Around the web: put attention where it needs to be put

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

Yesterday I submitted a book chapter and a journal manuscript. I have two substantial blog posts I'm working on, but neither will be ready for this week. However, I have been slowly accumulating Posts of Awesome that I'd like to share. I want to highlight people, writing, and topics that need and deserve more attention in the science blogosphere. I mention a lot of these things on Twitter, but I know a lot of my followers don't use Twitter. So here goes.LadybusinessIf you have any interest in pr........ Read more »

Editorial staff. (2010) Home birth--proceed with caution. Lancet, 376(9738), 303. PMID: 20674705  

  • March 16, 2011
  • 01:27 PM

On bad first drafts

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

From I Can Haz Cheezburger.My blogging mojo has been channeled almost entirely towards a book project I've undertaken with Julienne Rutherford of UIC and Katie Hinde of UCLA (though shortly to be of Harvard). The book is called Building Babies: Primate Development in Proximate and Ultimate Perspective and it will be published by Springer in 2012. Each co-editor has a chapter in there, and then we have a number of other rather fancy-pants contributors as well.The first drafts of the chapters were........ Read more »

Maybin JA, Critchley HO, & Jabbour HN. (2011) Inflammatory pathways in endometrial disorders. Molecular and cellular endocrinology, 335(1), 42-51. PMID: 20723578  

  • March 4, 2011
  • 11:07 AM

Mate magnet madness: When the range of possible explanations exceeds your own hypothesis

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

A rebuttal of a Tierney column on the evolutionary psychology of relationship maintenance.... Read more »

Brockelman, W., Reichard, U., Treesucon, U., & Raemaekers, J. (1998) Dispersal, pair formation and social structure in gibbons ( Hylobates lar ). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 42(5), 329-339. DOI: 10.1007/s002650050445  

Miller, S, & Maner, J. (2010) Evolution and relationship maintenance: Fertility cues lead committed men to devalue relationship alternatives. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 1081-1084. info:/

Murdock, G., & White, D. (1969) Standard Cross-Cultural Sample. Ethnology, 8(4), 329. DOI: 10.2307/3772907  

  • February 21, 2011
  • 01:51 AM

Tag-teaming research blogging: Me and Sci do it up, PMDD-style

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

When I was in college, my favorite hangout was the basement of the Harvard Book Store, where they had the used books and cheap remainders (they were also across the street from my freshman dorm, Wigglesworth, and yes, that is a most excellent name). I worked my way through several sci-fi and fantasy series, and got nearly all my Women’s Studies books, because of that one lovely room.One night in my freshman year I was browsing the philosophy section with a new boyfriend, a person with whom I o........ Read more »

Concas A, Mostallino MC, Porcu P, Follesa P, Barbaccia ML, Trabucchi M, Purdy RH, Grisenti P, & Biggio G. (1998) Role of brain allopregnanolone in the plasticity of gamma-aminobutyric acid type A receptor in rat brain during pregnancy and after delivery. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 95(22), 13284-9. PMID: 9789080  

Rapkin AJ, Berman SM, Mandelkern MA, Silverman DH, Morgan M, & London ED. (2011) Neuroimaging evidence of cerebellar involvement in premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Biological psychiatry, 69(4), 374-80. PMID: 21092938  

  • January 31, 2011
  • 04:40 PM

Iron-deficiency is not something you get just for being a lady

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

This post uses literature review, my own empirical research, and a new paper to demonstrate that menstrual cycling does not impact iron status in women. This goes against a major, prevailing medical notion and inhibits appropriate diagnosis in anemic women.... Read more »

  • January 28, 2011
  • 02:16 AM

Science Online 2011: Underrepresentation hurts us all

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

In my second year of graduate school, I was in a study group with a few other grad students: in particular I remember a white female student and an Asian-American female student. Somehow we got on the topic of admissions, where we all admitted, jokingly, to feeling like impostors. Then the white female student stated that she didn't believe in affirmative action, and expressed her view with quite a bit of anger. "Besides," she finished, "I just don't see race."I was completely paralyzed, and fel........ Read more »

  • January 7, 2011
  • 11:50 AM

Guest post: sex-differential use of the same objects versus sex-differences in object preference

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

This is a response to the Kaylenberg and Wrangham 2010 paper on stick-carrying chimpanzees.... Read more »

  • November 15, 2010
  • 04:15 PM

Around the web: male behavior

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

This post looks at the behavioral endocrinology of the human male.... Read more »

Levi, Maurice, Li, Kai, & Zhang, Feng. (2010) Deal or no deal: hormones and the mergers and acquisitions game. Management Science, 56(9), 1462-1483. info:/

  • November 12, 2010
  • 12:00 PM

How does an anthropological perspective contribute to our understanding of birth control? Part II

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

I polled my Twitter followers recently to find out what they wanted me to cover, and heard back a resounding "CONTRACEPTIVES!" So first I am going to re-post a series I wrote on my lab blog in July of 2009, with significant editing and updating. I think after these reposts I'll have a better idea of where it would make sense for me to contribute more, if at all. This is post two of five. Part one can be found here.What is a normal menstrual cycle? Are you normal? Am I? Women spend a lot of time ........ Read more »

Eaton SB, Pike MC, Short RV, Lee NC, Trussell J, Hatcher RA, Wood JW, Worthman CM, Blurton-Jones NG, Konner MJ.... (1994) Women's reproductive cancers in evolutionary context. Quarterley Review of Biology, 69(3), 353-367.

Eaton, S.B., Strassmann, B.I., Nesse, R.M., Neel, J.V., Ewald, P.W., Williams, G.C., Weder, A.B., Eaton III, S.B., Lindeberg, S., Konner, M.J.... (2002) Evolutionary health promotion. Preventive Medicine, 109-118.

  • October 25, 2010
  • 12:12 PM

How does an anthropological perspective contribute to our understanding of birth control? Part I

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

This is a heavily revised version of a series I wrote for my LEE Blog on biological anthropology and hormonal contraception. This post deals with contraindications for hormonal contraceptives.... Read more »

Burkman RT, Fisher AC, Wan GJ, Barnowski CE, & LaGuardia KD. (2009) Association between efficacy and body weight or body mass index for two low-dose oral contraceptives. Contraception, 79(6), 424-427.

Morin-Papunen L, Martikainen H, McCarthy MI, Franks S, Sovio U, Hartikainen AL, Ruokonen A, Leinonen M, Laitinen J, Järvelin MR.... (2008) Comparison of metabolic and inflammatory outcomes in women who used oral contraceptives and the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine device in a general population. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 199(5), 5290-2147483647. PMID: 18533124  

  • October 18, 2010
  • 11:04 AM

Two DonorsChoose projects you must support: Girls are good at math, and Technology tools while pregnant

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

A plea to fund DonorsChoose projects that highlights research on sexism in mathematics instruction.... Read more »

Alessandri SM, & Lewis M. (1993) Parental evaluation and its relation to shame and pride in young children. Sex Roles, 335-343. info:/

Fennema, E., Peterson, P., Carpenter, T., & Lubinski, C. (1990) Teachers attributions and beliefs about girls, boys, and mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 21(1), 55-69. DOI: 10.1007/BF00311015  

  • October 11, 2010
  • 05:40 PM

My IVF story: conclusions

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

I discuss aging and reproductive health, reproductive choice, and the naturalistic fallacy in my concluding post on IVF.... Read more »

  • October 7, 2010
  • 10:50 AM

Around the web: the dark side of behavioral biology

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

A link round-up on evolutionary psychology, rape, infanticide, and other nasty stuff.... Read more »

Thornhill, R, & Thornhill, NW. (1992) The evolutionary psychology of men's coercive sexuality. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 363-421. info:/

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