Whether it was traumatizing, funny or kinda badass, the story behind your first period is something that will stick with you forever. According to a new Oxford University study, health issues associated with the age you got your period may stick with you forever, too. Researchers found that women who began menstruating before age 10 or after age 17 were more likely to develop heart disease, stroke, and health problems associated with high blood pressure later on in life.
The study analyzed statistics from over 1 million women and found that early or late bloomers had a 27 percent higher risk of getting heart disease, a 16 percent higher risk of having a stroke, and a 20 percent higher risk of undergoing complications from high blood pressure. While researchers are not quite sure about the links between late onset menstruation and health issues in adulthood, early menarche can be caused by endocrine disruptors, environmental factors, and childhood obesity. Scientists hypothesized that if you start life as an overweight kid, you are likely to become an overweight adult, which has been shown to predispose people to heart health risks.
That said, this study should not be used to fat shame young girls any more than they already are. Let's not forget the recent research that suggests you can be fit and fat, which counters our culture's perpetual battle against the bulge. Hormonal surges and an abnormal onset of your period in childhood can impact your health as an adult, but it's still not a simple case of cause and effect.