Whether your first period was accompanied by a dramatic, Carrie-esque bloodbath or just a cringe-worthy lecture on the joys of menstruation, it’s hard to forget your first visit from Aunt Flo. Thankfully, unique tech like period underwear and period wearables have made those first days of cramps feel like they were the stone ages. But new women’s health research might have you reconsidering your first monthly visitor.
A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology reveals that the age when you started your period could be a signifier of future health concerns. The research comes from the University of Queenland’s School of Public Health, where Australian researchers discovered that women who had their first period at age 11 or younger were 50 percent more likely to develop gestational diabetes, a common complication during pregnancy, than women who didn’t start their periods until they were 13 years old.
The researchers analyzed health reports from 4,749 women who participated in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. Even after researchers considered factors like body mass index (BMI) and lifestyle factors, women who experienced periods at 11 or younger were still at a significantly higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. Although more research is needed to determine why the two are linked, the authors theorized that the cause is due to hormonal changes.
Considering girls are experiencing puberty at younger ages than ever, this new research is especially important. With this news in mind, women and their doctors can prepare for potential pregnancy complications before they happen, hopefully leading to improved healthcare for them and their babies. So while periods might suck, studying them for new health revelations definitely doesn’t.
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