Why the age you get your period matters — for the rest of your life

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I got my period when I was 15-and-a-half years old, much later than most of the girls I knew. This meant that, until well into my teens, while my classmates were chatting about pads, tampons (gasp!), and dating, I was off studying, as I had nothing to say on those subjects.

Little did I know at the time that my late entrance into “womanhood” may have worked to my advantage, both physically and mentally. I may not have gotten any male attention in high school (it’s true, no one asked me to prom 😭), but I did get into some pretty sweet colleges.

From academic success to cancer risk, research increasingly shows that the age at which a girl gets her period—called “menarche”—can have a significant impact on her life.

These findings are especially notable given that, around the world, the average age of menarche has dropped steadily since the 1950s. With new studies coming out regularly about girls going through puberty earlier, we were curious: What’s causing this global decline—and what are the potential long-term consequences?

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