Menarche is the age when a little girl has already grown up and very quickly turns into a woman.
Menarche – meaning in life
Transition age is a difficult period in the life of every woman. It can be compared to the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. It is not about beauty at all, but about the difficult changes the body has to undergo at this time, although it is not as noticeable as in the case of a butterfly. The first menstruation, or menarche, mainly occurs at the age of 11-14, when the girl’s body reaches its peak growth rate. The body weight increases, hormones are intensively produced and, as a result, menstruation happens.
What determines the age of the first menstruation?
Conventionally, the reasons can be divided into 2 large groups: genetic and non-genetic, that is, those that arise from the environment. At the same time, genetic causes can be influenced by environmental factors and delay their manifestations or, conversely, accelerate them.
Genetic predisposition is an important factor that should not be ignored. Although it’s important to remember that the genetic code is not implemented all at the same time, and certain conditions are required for the manifestation of a particular DNA section. For example, if a close relative was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 40, this does not mean that descendants at this age will also necessarily develop the disease if they undergo screenings and adhere to a certain lifestyle.
To find out about genetic predisposition, it is important to communicate with your mother and find out when she had her first menstruation. Ask her whether the cycle became regular immediately, and whether the menstruation was painful or heavy.
External factors that affect the time of the first menstruation:
- Environmental factors. Including geographical differences: altitude, temperature, humidity and lighting. Light signals affect the production of the substance melatonin, which in turn transmits signals to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, telling the body what hormones to produce and in what quantity. Therefore, for the adequate production of melatonin, it is important to fall asleep at the same time. You should turn off the blue glow of the screens of our gadgets 30–60 minutes before bedtime, and fall asleep before 23.00;
- Weight at birth. There is evidence that in children with low birth weight, the age of puberty and menarche is increased by about 5–10 months;
- Body mass index (BMI). Higher levels of subcutaneous fat and BMI at prepubertal age (5-9 years) are associated with an increased likelihood of early (<11 years) menarche;
- Physical activity. Menarche, in athletes, including ballet dancers, occurs later than in the general population, except for swimmers, suggesting that intense exercise delays puberty;
- Socio-economic status. Girls from families with high socio-economic status have menarche at an earlier age than girls from families with lower socio-economic status;
- Stress, chronic, acute diseases, or a state of war. The stress factor negatively affects the rate of sexual development.
- Urbanization. Girls who grew up in the city menstruated earlier than those who lived in rural areas.
- Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). These include industrial solvents, some plastics, pesticides and pharmaceuticals. Carefully choose skin care products and medications that your teenage girl takes.
A good war is the one that did not happen. The same can be said about health: the best disease is the one that has not developed.
With a careful study of various conditions and diseases, scientists began to notice that there are some prerequisites for their manifestation that can be influenced. Early or late menarche is a known risk factor that indicates not the inevitability of the disease, but to monitor and prevent its development in time.
What does the age of menarche affect?
- Early menarche is associated with heavy menstruation and increased incidence of abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB);
- Early menarche is a known risk factor for the development of uterine fibroids, endometriosis, endometrial hyperplasia, as well as endometrial, ovarian and breast cancer later in life;
- It was found that early menarche is further associated with disorders of carbohydrate metabolism and pro-inflammatory state. It also impacts insulin resistance and increases the risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome;
- Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, and increased blood pressure;
- Early menarche leads to earlier sex life beginning and is a risk factor for adolescent depression;
- Adolescents with early menarche and problematic peer relationships have increased symptoms of social anxiety;
- Late menarche is associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a decrease in bone mineral density, which increases the risk of fractures. In addition, girls with late menarche have a deficit of bone mineral density even before puberty;
- Girls’ expectations about menstruation are often associated with negative prejudices. It has also been contributed to self-objectification, body-shame and lack of freedom of choice in sexual decision-making;
- If early puberty is combined with social factors. Negative social circle, more sensitivity to aggressive behavior of the environment and sharper reactions to the remarks of teachers, parents, etc.;
- Late menarche is associated with depression in adulthood.
Regulate conditions described above by gradually changing habits that can negatively affect health.
Consult a doctor to identify risk factors, get screened, and have a general assessment of your current health.
Based on this information, your doctor will be able to prescribe the best preventive measures. He would develop a plan of examinations. He might also tell you how to change your lifestyle without excessive discomfort for you and your body.
How a mother can help her teenage daughter at the age of menarche
Mothers of teenage girls should consider that in the modern world, there is a tendency towards early puberty. So it is recommended to start talking about physiology and changes in the girl’s body from the age of seven or eight.
Discuss that there may be itching or minor pain in the breast area as it starts to grow. That there will be hair in the armpits, legs, and pubic area.
Read more about puberty here.
Talk about menstruation, what it means and what to do when it happens. Be sure to show where personal hygiene products are located, let them be freely accessible. A teenager should not feel that her comfort zone is being violated. So by the time of menarche, the girl should understand her condition, not be afraid of it and be able to take care of herself.
Parents should consult an adolescent gynecologist if they notice that the child develops very quickly and menarche occurs earlier than 11. Or vice versa, you see that this process is delayed, and the first menstruation has not come at the age of 14. I recommend bringing girls to visit a gynecologist for preventive purposes at the age of 7-8.
You can understand in detail all the processes that occur with a teenage daughter and the whole family in my course A girl becomes a woman.
I’m eager to file all of these courses in English, just send me a request to email@example.com
Be healthy mentally, physically, sexually and reproductively!
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💗 to all
Sincerely, your Natalia Silina,
head of the Lior Medical Center
- Olga Karapanou & Anastasios Papadimitriou; Determinants of menarche; Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, 2010
- D. Apter M. Reinilä R. Vihko; Some endocrine characteristics of early menarche, a risk factor for breast cancer, are preserved into adulthood;The International Journal of Cancer
- DAN APTER, REIJO VIHKO; Early Menarche, a Risk Factor for Breast Cancer, Indicates Early Onset of Ovulatory Cycles; The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
- Суплотова Л.А., Сметанина С.А. Раннее менархе как фактор риска развития метаболического синдрома у женщин в репродуктивном возрасте; Журнал репродуктивное здоровье женщин и мужчин, 2017