Physical and sexual abuse has many devastating effects on a child’s psyche, but a recent study published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health shows that it also affects physiology. According to, researchers have identified a link between the age at menarche, or when your daughter first menstruates, and childhood physical and sexual abuse.

The typical age for girls to first get their periods is sometime between 11 and 15 years. But the researchers, after going over data from 68,505 women who participated a nurses’ health study, found that those who reported having suffered severe physical abuse when they were kids were 50 percent more likely to get their periods late (after 15). On the other hand, those who had reported sexual abuse in childhood were 49 percent more likely to experience early onset menarche, meaning they got their periods before they reached the age of 11.

These findings are significant because early and late onset menarche have been linked with other health issues. Girls who get their periods early may up their risks of cancer, depression, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic dysfunction, while girls who get their periods late may also risk depression along with lower bone mineral density, which in turn ups the risk of developing osteoporosis.

(Photo by janet isn’t real via Flickr Creative Commons; used for illustrative purposes only.)

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