A South Dakota State University study showed that women who began menstruating at an earlier age had a higher percentage of body fat as adults than women who began menstruating later.

But women who began menstruating earlier also had higher bone mineral density in the hip as adult women. They also had greater bone mass and bone density in the femoral neck region of the hip, a common site for hip fracture.

These are among the findings in a study by assistant professor Teresa Binkley at SDSU’s Ethel Austin Martin Program in Human Nutrition.

The study looked at the effect of menarcheal age on body size and bone measures in adult women.

” ‘Menarcheal age’ refers to the age at which a female first begins menstruation,” Binkley explained.

“If the age at which a female starts menstruating, or her menarcheal age, is early, then she has an increased exposure to estrogen compared to a female with a later menarcheal age.”

Estrogen (estrogen levels) exposure leads to growth plate closure, or the stage at which bones stop growing in length, as well as to mineral packing in bone.

Studies have associated early menarcheal age with increased bone density. Some research has also associated early menarcheal age with shorter stature and greater percent body fat (lose body fat) as an adult, while later menarcheal age is associated with taller stature and leaner body composition.

Read more at Medical News Today