Menstruation can sometimes be a real bane in a woman’s life by affecting her well-being and achieving her dream height. Young readers of the GrowTaller.blog often complain about growth stoppage after their period. I decided to describe the impact of menstruation on the final growth of girls.
Of course, all the figures in the article are approximate and may vary from person to person. A person experiences rapid bone growth as an infant or young child. As we age, growth spikes occur more gradually. Rapid changes throughout the body begin anew in maturing teenagers.
Menarche – the first period
The first menstrual cycle in girls signals proper health, maturation of the body and the beginning of reproductive capacity. 98% of girls begin menstruating by the age of 15, with an average age of 12-13. The appearance of menarche too early, too late or not at all is worrisome, as it can carry negative consequences. Menarche is considered early if it occurs before age 10, and late if it occurs at age 15 or older. Menarche is considered delayed if more than three years pass between the onset of THELARCHE (puberty of the mammary glands) and the first menstrual period.
Thelarche — > PHV –> 6 months –> Menarche
(total 2-3 years gap)
Growth before and after menstruation
Peak growth velocity (PHV) is simply the greatest growth of a person during the teenage years. After the first year of life, the growth rate decreases, except for the peak growth velocity (PHV). In boys, this usually happens between 13-15 years of age.
Girls grow the most between 11-13 years of age. Typically, growth velocity peaks 6-12 months before first menstruation, then slows down and stops within a year after first menstruation. After the puberty stage, girls usually stop growing around age 16.
As an example, there was a 1993 study of 95 fourth-grade elementary school girls in Taiwan. Growth velocity peaked a year before first menarche and stopped increasing within a year after menarche .
What affects your first period
The age at which a woman experiences her first menstrual period is variable, with genetic and environmental factors such as socioeconomic status, family life, race, exercise and diet, and overall health.
A daughter may genetically inherit a propensity for early menarche. In addition, if the mother has grown significantly after the onset of menarche, the daughter also has a good chance. In several studies, ethnic-racial differences have affected the onset of first menstruation (menarche). For example, black girls experienced their first menstruation three months earlier than white girls. In addition to the female reproductive organs (ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus and vagina), menarche is influenced by complex hormonal interactions in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and ovaries. The adrenal glands, thyroid and pancreas have also been proven to influence the onset of the first menstrual period.
Early first period
- Earliest, first menstruation was noticed in girls raised in stressful family environments: foster families and the presence of a stepfather. Women raised in urban areas experienced menstruation earlier than rural residents.
- Girls from families with high socioeconomic status experienced their first menstruation earlier than girls from families with lower socioeconomic status.
- Girls who consumed more animal protein and less plant protein between the ages of 3-5 experienced first menstruation earlier.
- Girls who are overweight or obese may undergo their first menstruation at a younger age.
- According to the researchers, artificial feeding in early childhood was responsible for early menstruation.
- Early first menstruation can lead to premature fusion of epiphyseal cartilage and the formation of compact bone, which accelerates the achievement of final height – lower than potential genetic growth.
In a study of 1148 Korean women, 256 girls (22.3%) had early first menstruation. The prevalence of low height and obesity was higher in women with early menstruation compared to those with later menstruation. The final height of girls was influenced by the age of first menstruation. In Europe and the U.S., women with earlier first menstruation achieved lower height compared to women who had their first menstruation at a later age. Compared to the mothers of girls in the second group, the mothers of the girls studied with early menarche also had early menstruation, as did their daughters. Women with early menarche had a 10.5% greater chance of being short in adulthood, a 2.6-fold increase compared to women with later first menarche. The chance of obesity in women with early first menarche was 1.73 times higher. According to the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study, based on 286205 women from nine European countries, women grew about 0.35 cm taller when menarche occurred a year later. Depending on the country, the results ranged between 0.13-0.50 cm. In the United States, slowing menarche by one year, resulted in women growing 0.76, 0.41 and 0.35 cm taller.
First period doesn’t always mean you’ll stop growing soon
Another Fels Longitudinal Study, on the other hand, showed that girls starting menstruation at age 10 grew more than those whose menstruation is delayed until age 15. It was noted that girls, starting puberty at around 6-8 years of age, do not end up as short adults. The key here is the longer interval between earlier telarche and menarche. Conversely, a shorter interval between thelarche and menarche resulted in less growth after menarche in girls with delayed puberty. Attempts to pharmacologically delay puberty have been ineffective in increasing their final height .
The authors of the study suggest possible causes and solutions for premature menstruation. Earlier fusion of the epiphyseal cartilages, resulting in stunted growth is due to estrogen in the ovaries. Low-dose estrogen causes IGF-1 stimulation and a growth spike in early puberty. Delaying the first menstrual period allows long bones to continue growing before the epiphyseal cartilages fuse, which helps achieve higher final height. In girls with precocious puberty, treatment with a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRHa) analogue can have this effect. The growth effect depends on the age of onset of puberty and the timing of treatment .
Delayed first period
- Menarche may be delayed in adolescent girls with very low body weight due to starvation, poor absorption or eating disorders
- On average, menstruation occurs later in athletes than in the general population. Intense physical exertion (a minimum of 2 hours a day) delays puberty and thus menstruation.
- Additional studies have shown that the presence of older sisters at home is associated with a later onset of first menstruation.
In the study, delayed first menstruation resulted in decreased forearm and spine mineral density, congenital thigh hypotrophy; osteoporosis and increased risk of fractures in later life .
The age of first menstruation depends on genetics and environment, including socioeconomic status, family life, race, exercise and diet, and overall health. An early first menstruation may result in an eventual growth below genetic potential. A longer interval between thelarche and menarche can reduce the negative impact on growth. If you have concerns about the absence or timing of your first period, contact your gynecologist.
1) Chang SH, Tzeng SJ, Cheng JY, Chie WC. „Height and weight change across menarche of schoolgirls with early menarche”. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2000 Sep;154(9):880-4. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.154.9.880. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10980790/
2) Lacroix AE, Gondal H, Shumway KR, et al. „Physiology, Menarche”. [Updated 2022 Mar 17]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470216/
3) Nakamoto JM. „Myths and variations in normal pubertal development”. West J Med. 2000 Mar;172(3):182-5. doi: 10.1136/ewjm.172.3.182. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1070801/
4) Kang S, Kim YM, Lee JA, Kim DH, Lim JS. Early Menarche is a Risk Factor for Short Stature in Young Korean Females: An Epidemiologic Study. J Clin Res Pediatr Endocrinol. 2019 Sep 3;11(3):234-239. doi: 10.4274/jcrpe.galenos.2018.2018.0274. Epub 2019 Jan 3. Erratum in: J Clin Res Pediatr Endocrinol. 2019 Nov 22;11(4):451-451. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6745461/