How many women remember the first day of transition to womanhood with the onset of periods? Hardly a woman can ever imagine that her age of menarche can provide useful insights about her future health. But there are interesting revelations women should be aware of.
Are you a super early starter or a late bloomer?
If you have started menstruating at the 9-10 years of age, you are a pretty early starter whereas if it is after attaining 14-15 years, then you can be considered as a late starter.
Scientists found that women starting menstruating early between 8-11 years of age have a higher risk of developing chronic lifestyle ailments which can affect their longevity. The late starters have an added benefit of enjoying a healthier life for a longer time span.
The first period affects life expectancy:
This is revealed by a new research study conducted by University of California San Diego School of Medicine after conducting a survey on 1600 women belonging to different race and cultural background.
Women experiencing the first period after 12 years of age and menopause after 50 have a higher chance of crossing 90 years. These women have lesser chances of coronary heart disease and diabetes and are expected to enjoy a healthier life, which automatically increases their life span.
Scientists have also found that women starting menstruating at a very early age like 10 years may have higher chances of heart disease, stroke and hypertension compared to the late bloomers. Though findings associate early menarche with elevated chances of cardiovascular disease, the reason is yet to be confirmed.
Things to note:
Though the recent finding relating to women’s first period and life expectancy is quite striking, one has to take a note of the following as well:
- The average age of women included in the study was 74.
- A significant fraction of women may not be able to provide the correct age about their onset of periods. Considering their age and memory power, it is not always advisable to rely on data provided by them.
Is it the protective role of estrogen?
Estrogen is known to be the cardio-protector of womenfolk. Therefore, one possible reason behind the high life expectancy of the early bloomers may be the long exposure to estrogen by virtue of which they enjoy a healthy life.
As women cross 40, the level of hormones starts reducing, and by the age of 60 estrogen provides hardly any further protection. Crossing the age bar of 60 makes a person vulnerable to a number of health problems unless one leads a disciplined life.
But one thing is worth mentioning here. Lifestyle factors like smoking and drinking habits and physical activities are not being considered in the above study. Therefore, women, even if they start menstruating early, lead unhealthy lifestyle, it might wipe out this added advantage of enjoying a longer life span.
Longer exposure to estrogen may up your breast cancer risks:
Again, if estrogen is considered as a protector, but a prolonged exposure may give rise to more serious ailments like breast cancer. This is not a good news for early bloomers. The risk of breast cancer is 20% higher for women starting periods before 12 years of age compared to those starting after 14.
Another research shows the risk is 30% higher for women reaching menopause after 55 years of age than those stopping menstruating by 45. Early menstruation does not always lead to early menopause. Therefore, the estrogen factor can play differently in different groups of women.
Does early menarche seriously mean lesser life span?
Experts assure women having early menstruation should not worry about this life expectancy factor as the research does not convincingly prove the fact. Women, on the other hand, should stress more on lifestyle maintenance, and adopting healthy habits and practices.
Menarche and menopause are not in our control but leading a disciplined lifestyle is. Women do struggle with a lot of health issues during the menopausal phase which, if not taken care of properly, ultimately affects their life span. These can be controlled to a great extent through preventive measures.
So if you stick to your smoking and drinking habit along with a sedentary lifestyle, you are likely to reduce your lifespan by years even if you have started menstruating at a normal age.