Most girls get their first period when they are about 12 years old, but menstruation (the medical term for periods) can start at as early as 8 years of age. There are many factors associated with the commencement of periods, including genetics, physical activity and habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Moreover, various studies have shown that there are some medical conditions that are associated with early menstruation.
Early menstruation can result in premature menopause
Menopause is the stage in a woman’s life which is marked with the end of menses (periods). Once a woman hits menopause, her ovaries stop releasing eggs, so the woman can no longer become pregnant naturally. Usually, the age of menopause is between 45 to 55 years.
But a study published in the journal Human Reproduction in 2017, stated that when compared to women who got their first period between the age of 12 and 13, women who got their periods at the age of 11 years or younger had an 80% higher risk of experiencing premature menopause which is natural menopause before the age of 40. These women also had a 30% higher risk of early menopause, where the menopause occurs between the ages of 40-44.
Early menstruation can result in increased menopause symptoms
In recent research, published in BJOG on 21st July 2020, scientists stated that girls who got their periods early in life are more likely to suffer from vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause.
There are certain symptoms that are seen in women in the first few years after menopause. Vasomotor symptoms, which are associated with the dilation and contraction of the blood vessels, include hot flashes, flushes and night sweats. Other symptoms involve genitourinary symptoms (loss of vaginal elasticity, reduced vaginal secretions, urinary incontinence), bone symptoms (decreased bone mass) and psychological symptoms (mood swings, insomnia, anxiety and depression).
In this study, scientists gathered data from 13,602 women who were tested to find out the recurrence of the vasomotor symptoms. Women classified their symptoms on the basis of four categories: never, rarely, sometimes and often.
The scientists further collected data from four studies which examined 4,953 women to test the severity of the symptoms.
The results of the study showed that women who have a history of early menstruation and were overweight in midlife had a two times greater risk of suffering from hot flushes and night sweats, compared to those who experienced their first period at the age of 14 years or older and had normal weight throughout their life.
Women who got early menstruation may have an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases
In a study published in the journal BMJ, the scientists tested 4,82,000 women and men in the UK Biobank. The results of the study indicated that women with early menarche (initiation of periods), early menopause and a history of miscarriage, stillbirth or hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) had the higher risk of getting the cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke later in life.
For more information, read our article on Menopause.
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