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Are Girls Menstruating At a Younger Age?

“Children are growing up so fast these days”, we often hear so many of our elders say. But before you chalk up their words to hollow cliché, out of touch with our modern times you should know something. These wise old timers might be sensing something that may be true right down to the dense facts of biological reality. American girls are menstruating earlier these days. What age is early menstruation? Menarche, a girl’s first period or menstrual cycle used to normally be after 13 years of age.


According to pediatrics American girls menstruate nine months earlier that they did 20 years ago on average around 12 years of age. This may seem like a rapid change but some researchers go further and suggest that this trend seems to follow an older phenomenon spanning from the early 1900’s.

What Age Is Considered Early Menstruation?

Multiple studies have found that the trend is even stronger among African American girls who start menstruating three months earlier, on average, than girls of European descent. Making them the youngest menstruating girls in the world as well as in known history.

Height and Weight as Indicators of Early Onset of Menarche?

Researchers have also looked into other variables, such as differences in height, weight and skin-fold thickness to see if this was linked to early menstrual bleeding. They did find that girls who started menstruating early, before eleven years of age were taller and heavier than girls who had their menarche at thirteen years of age.

Combined with statistics that show that African American girls aged five to nine years old tend to be taller and heavier than other girls the same age, and have a slightly more developed skeletal system, it seemed like they might have found a connection. However, when researchers compare only young black girls of the same build to young white girls the result was that black girls still were forty percent more likely than white girls to have their first period earlier. From these studies researchers believe that the rate of height growth instead of height itself may be a better indicator as to when a girl will have her first period than to only taking height itself as an indicator. This theory does not explain the differences in statistics regarding early menstruation between black and white girls though.

Onset of Menarche Related to Sexual or Physical Abuse ?

Lead researcher Lauren A. Wise from the Boston University Slone Epidemiology Centre, who has conducted many studies on black women’s health issues, has suggested that a history of physical or sexual abuse could heighten the risk of early menstruation in conclusion to her study of 35,000 African American women from the ages of 21-69 who all menstruated before the age of 11 years old.

Around 43 percent of these early menstruators claimed physical abuse while 18 percent said that they were sexually abused when they were younger. Also she found that those who were victims of more incidents of abuse had a higher likelihood of having starting their periods at a younger age. 26 percent had early bleeding after one to three incidents while 34 percent experienced early menarche after four or more incidents of sexual abuse. While It’s important to note that early menstruation is not to be mistaken for evidence of sexual or physical abuse (after all a large number of girls with early menarche reported none in this study) it is a possibility of one trigger of early menarche. This theory is ripe for further research.

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