Much research has been conducted into the link between the age at which a girl gets her first period and a number of associated health risks. Researchers have found that the younger a girl was when she began menstruating, the higher the risk the that she will suffer from a number of allergies and diseases later in life.
Here are five things your first period might reveal about your future health risks:
- Heart disease
Scientists say that women who first started their period either super early (before the age of 10) or those who got their period much later (after the age of 17) had a 27% increased risk of heart disease, 20% increased risk of high blood pressure and 16% increased risk for a stroke, compared with women who first got their period at the age of 13.
The reason for the link, however, remains unclear.
2. Type 2 diabetes
In a study that analysed over 15 000 women, researchers found that women who first got their period at an abnormally young age (between 8 and 11) had a 70% greater chance of developing Type 2 diabetes, compared with those who started at the average age of 13.
Scientists say the increased risk could be linked to a girl’s weight at the time.
“Earlier exposure to the hormones of puberty could be responsible for a persistent change in insulin sensitivity that permanently changes the risk for Type 2 diabetes later in life,” Dr Mary Gallagher was quoted saying in a Readers Digest report.
This is a pregnancy related condition that’s marked by high blood pressure and protein in the urine during pregnancy and can be life-threatening for you and your child if left untreated. Women who got their period before the age of 12 have a 28% increased risk of developing this potentially deadly condition.
If you are obese and you got your first period before the age of 11, your risk is even higher.
Preeclampsia can also become a risk factor for stroke.
4. Breast cancer
A growing body of research suggests that the earlier you get your first period, the higher your risk to developing breast cancer. Studies have shown that women who started menstruating before the age of 12 have around a 20% higher risk of developing breast cancer, compared to those who started their period after the age of 14. Conversely, research has found that women who reach menopause at an early age (before 45) have a lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who go into menopause after the age of 55.
5. Brain tumour
Chinese researchers have drawn a link between being a late developer and how that contributes to the risk of developing a brain tumour. One study found that women who started their period after the age of 17 have an increased risk of developing a brain tumour later in life.