How First Menstruation Affects Women’s Health
A woman’s first menstruation marks the beginning of puberty and her journey to adulthood. This notable event does not just have social or personal impact. It actually has a lasting effect on a woman’s health. Decades after your first period, that date can still alter your risk for certain health conditions. A 2016 study from the University of California School of Medicine found that beginning dates for menstruation impact lifespan.
To conduct the study, researchers tracked 16,000 participants for 21 years. The group of female test subjects were of all ages, races, and nationalities. According to Dr. Aladdin Shadyab, the study lead, the participants were sourced through the Women’s Health Initiative organization. This extensive study focused on collecting data about menstrual cycles and overall health. The team of researchers discovered several surprising factors altered a woman’s longevity.
The goal of the research was to examine how genetics and lifestyle affected a person’s length of life. After 21 years, 55 percent of the group had survived to the age of 90. When analyzing the data, it became apparent that women who lived to be 90 had something in common. The date that a woman started her period and the date she stopped having it made a big difference.
Most of the subject group who lived past 90 did not start their first menstruation until they were at least 12. Most of the women also did not stop having the period until they were at least 50. On average, the patients who survived longer had at least 40 years where they were able to conceive. The researchers emphasize that this correlation between lifespan and reproductivity does not mean that fertility causes a longer life. Instead, they believe that there are many important factors affecting their findings.
The data found that these women lived longer instead of dying of conditions that could kill even a young woman. Subjects who died before 90 tended to have issues with heart disease, strokes, or diabetes complications. The women who remained fertile for over 40 years were less likely to have these issues. The women who started menopause later in life also tended to not smoke.