Changing ages


In the mid-19th Century, the age of menarche (the first menstrual cycle) declined in European girls from 17 years of age to 13 - and it's still declining.

Experts believe this is due to increased fatty diets and stress.

Initially the declining age wasn't seen as such a bad thing.

The older age was associated with being undernourished. Meaning, the younger age was "largely due to better nutrition, hygiene and health," writes the Conversation.
During the industrial revolution, the average age of menarche increased to 16-17 years, likely a result of overcrowding and poor childhood nutrition and hygiene.

Can you believe that? Starting at 17 years old instead of 13?

If that had been the case in this day and age, I can only think of how I could have possibly endured only 6 years, instead of 12 years of this ‘normal womanly function’. How much money could have been saved on not buying feminine hygiene products, and how much grief could have been saved when you would have an accidental ‘spill’ and have to hide the spot the rest of the day… or walk around with a wet skirt at school. Or just hope people would politely ignore it, as I did on several occasions.

Some girls look forward to and welcome the occasion, but I can remember going to my mum when it all started and crying bitterly, telling her I didn’t want it. Make it stop. Naturally, she told me to accept it because it was what it was, and it wasn’t going anywhere - not for a long time, at any rate. I knew it was coming and I knew what it meant, but while some are excited about it I hated it and despised it.

It’s interesting to see the reasons for this starting earlier, yet it seems even in the past it was always around 13 years old. With lifespans shorter though, it made sense that the body would need to start this process earlier in life to ensure that you could produce the next generation before you die. Ironically with the longer lifespan now, it seems potentially fast food and fats are making the process start earlier, when most of us persue education and careers and don’t even think of starting a family until around our 30s, or later. That could be 17 years: 204 individual weeks or 1,428 days of bleeding.

It still is funny how this is a perfectly normal function that almost every female has to go through (minus those with certain conditions), and a significant portion of the male population is also impacted by (mood swings, needing to go buy tampons/pads for their significant other), yet it’s still difficult to talk about. What’s made this so taboo?

Regardless, if there was an option available today to suppress this ‘perfectly normal womanly function’ or whatever you want to call it, I would happily take it in a heartbeat. The Pill can be used to ‘regulate your cycles’ I have read, but then I’ve also read that the bleeding is actually a side effect of taking the Pill, and not your normal cycle. If it’s a side effect, why haven’t we looked into fixing this? But nevermind, I’m just rambling…