Did you know, your first period has an actual name? It’s called menarche (MEH-nar-kee)1. It’s got a nice ring to it. Well, more than ‘a stressful and confusing experience’.
A menarche is a significant point in a young girl’s life. To many, it signifies the start of becoming a woman. You’ve probably already had a chat with some of your friends about how old you were when you had your first period.
How old you are when you get your menarche is determined by a number of things. But what is the normal age to get it? In western countries any age after 9 and before 15 is considered normal1. Over the last century, the average age of a girl’s menarche in the western world has dropped by about 4 years (From 17 to 13)2. It’s also not that uncommon for girls to get their menarche as young as 10. So why is this?
From a science point of view, the exact reasons for an early period are still debated. Nutrition is considered a massive factor. When the 21st century came along, the problem of not getting the right nutrition became less and less. It has now been replaced with the problem of eating too much food3.
Getting stressed is also considered a factor. ‘Stress’ in early child life caused by things like parental divorces and being raised by a single parent. Children who were exposed to smoking, lack of exercise and bad diets are also thought to be more likely to experience an early menarche4. Early being as young as 8 years old.
So can this have an impact on later life? In a word: yes.
A change in a young girl’s body can lead to an unexpected growth in confidence. This in turn, can make girls feel ready for sexual relationships before they have a proper understanding of the subject.
Any girl who experiences a menarche at a younger age is more likely to experience PMS earlier as well. This can lead to some girls not attending school because they don’t feel up to it. No girl should have to miss out on something as important as her education just because her body wants to so things quicker.
The solution to reducing the number of early menarches can be found by tackling the issue head on. As a society, we can work towards the issues of unhealthy childhood diets and stressful upbringings. If a girl does start her periods at an early age, family and friends can play an important role in providing education, support and everything else that goes with a happy childhood. After all, you may be becoming a woman, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up being a kid, just yet.
- http://www.webmd.com/women/tc/normal-menstrual-cycle-menarche-and-the-teenage-menstrual-cycle Accessed on 02/06/17
- http://www.mum.org/menarage.htm Accessed on 02/06/17
- http://www.webmd.com/children/features/obesity#1 Accessed on 02/06/17
- http://www.webmd.com/children/causes-symptoms#1 Accessed on 02/06/17