Intralocus sexual conflict is the reason for 'Male-female, health-survival paradox' in which genes benefit one sex but harm the other, making women less healthy than men in older age and men to die more likely than women at any given age, according to the scientists of University of Exeter as
The researchers used mathematical models and experimental data on flies to show that such genes can easily spread if they take effect after female reproduction stops.
"Shared genes tether the sexes together in an evolutionary tug of war," said Professor David Hosken, of the University of Exeter.
"However, after females reaches menopause, they no longer reproduce to pass on their genes which means selection (which is reproduction) on females is greatly weakened.
"So after that point, any genes that improve late-life male fitness will accumulate, even if they harm female fitness."
Professor Hosken said it was important to note that survival and health are not the same thing - and that the accumulation of late-life male benefit genes hinged upon males' ability to continue reproducing after the age of female menopause.
The experimental data on flies (Drosophila) supported the findings of the mathematical models on humans, as genes that were better at late-life male reproduction tended to be worse for females.