Talking about periods is very ‘in’ of late. Between everyone switching to Mooncups, the movie Crimson Peak and Repeal the 8th pro-choice activists tweeting details of their cycles to Enda Kenny, you’re not partaking in modern womanhood if you blush at the thought of discussing menses. Another headline relating to periods that might provide you with conversation fodder is a recent study examining the link between the age a woman gets her first period and her long-term health prospects.
Published last month in the BMC Medicine journal, the study also looked at how giving birth, breastfeeding, taking oral contraceptives and menopause can affect your health. Researchers at the Imperial College London looked at over 300,000 women aged 25-75 years 13 years apart. Just over 14,000 participants died in that time and it was observed that the risk of death was lower in women who got their periods aged 15 or older, gave birth, used oral contraceptives and breastfed. That’s a lot of milestone boxes to tick.
Why were these events associated with a lower mortality risk? The study theorised that all of the aforementioned incidents are associated with lower estrogen levels, and previous studies have found that giving birth can reduce the risk of certain cancers. However, the studies authors were quick to stress that just because you didn’t have children, this did not mean you were more unhealthy. There was no noticeable difference in BMI, smoking status and physical activity levels.
As for the First Period issue, the younger you start menstruating, the more likely you are to experience high blood pressure or increased body fat as you get older – two issues that can lead to further health complications. The takeaway? Don’t start looking for coffins, the study didn’t find flashing red sign risks, but maybe fit in a long walk once or twice a week if you got your period at a young age.
Via BMC Medicine
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