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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Age at Menarche and its Association with Age at Marriage and Age at First Birth

Author(s): H. Tiwari, R. Tiwari, U.N. Oza

Vol. 30, No. 1 (2005-03 - 2005-03)


Menarche is one of the most significant milestone in a women's life. It is a qualitative event of major significance and occurs between the age of 10 and 16 years in most girls, but it shows a remarkable range of variation. The major determinant of the timing of the onset is no doubt genetic, but a number of other factors appear to influence both the age at onset and the progression of puberty development. Among the influences are nutritional status, general health, geographic location, exposure to light and psychological state6. Komlos2 found in his study that the late maturers are more likely to be from the most economically depressed areas where chronic malnutrition was most prevalent. He found a strong support of the possibility of link between female nutritional status and fertility under a state of chronic malnutrition.

The age at which females attain menarche has been suggested as an indicator of their nutritional status and as a determinant of their age at first marriage and first birth. Menarche is an important predictor of the timing of marriage thereby affecting age at first birth. The post menarcheal phase is characterized by restrictions on her movements and by the imposition of special safeguard. A girl is not given any formal sex education and is rarely aware of the connection between sexual intercourse and conception. The first menstruation, therefore, is often horrifying and frightening experience to them, because it occurs without prior knowledge.

Moreover, in rural areas they are married as early as possible after attaining menarche leading to future problems relating to reproductive health and reproductive morbidity. Poorly timed unwanted pregnancies or repeated pregnancies and their consequences during adolescence give rise to a wide range of physiological, development and psychosocial problems. In this paper an attempt has been made to examine the influence of age at menarche on reproduction variable, with reference to age at marriage, age at first birth and birth intervals.

Material and Methods

The study was conducted in Urban/Rural area of Anand Taluka (now District). A total sample size of 100 ever-married women in the age group 13-49 years was taken from ever-married women of the study area. The data was collected using a structured questionnaire. Since the data on menarche was collected from ever-married women in the age group 13-49 years, most of who had experienced this even earlier in their life, the data regarding menarche may have recall bias. Livson and Mc Neill 3 compared women's reports around the times of menarche with their retrospective report many years later and had found a mean error of 6 months and the errors were distributed randomly with respect to the age at menarche. Hence a correction factor of 6 months has been used for average age at menarche.

Results & Discussion

Age at menarche goes on decreasing as we move from older cohorts to younger cohorts (Table I). This decrease may be attributed to various factors like better nutrition, higher standard of living. The basic problem with the younger cohorts in that the mean age at marriage is truncated as a result of the fact that the data are censored by the age at interview. All the coefficients of correlation except two, are significant at the 0.01 level, and most are significant at the 0.001 level (Table II). This shows that age at menarche, age at marriage and age at first birth are correlated.

The average birth intervals for women having early menarche (<12 years) has a longer birth interval for each birth intervals as compared to women having late age at menarche (>15 years). It might be due to the fact that women who have late menarche, the age at marriage being higher than early maturers may try to complete the desired family size as early as possible.

Table I : Mean Ages at Menarche, Marriage, and First Birth by Women's Birth Cohort

Birth Cohort Age at Menarche Age at Marrige Age at First Birth
  Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD
1950-55 14.31 1.34 16.47 3.21 20.44 3.50
1956-61 14.37 1.50 17.22 3.72 20.74 3.25
1962-67 14.21 1.34 17.94 3.36 20.43 2.67
1968-73 14.20 1.34 17.68 2.67 20.72 2.47
1974-79 13.80 1.38 16.28 2.47 19.79 1.39
1980-85 13.00 1.07 14.14 2.43 18.14 1.31
1950-85 13.90 1.36 17.29 3.80 20.22 2.43

Table II : Correlation Among Ages at Menarche, Marriage, First Birth by Women's Birth Cohort

Birth cohort N Age Me, Age Me, Age Mar,
Age Mg Age FB Age FB
1943-47 216 0.1524 0.1741* 0.4467**
1948-52 360 0.1389* 0.1711** 0.5673**
1953-57 441 0.2420** 0.2409** 0.6661**
1958-62 543 0.522 0.1882** 0.4918**
1963-67 565 0.2181** 0.1705** 0.6556**
1968-72 601 0.1719** 0.2110** 0.5714**
1973-77 174 0.2863** 0.3566 0.4608**
p<0.01 ** = p < 0.001


  1. Komlos J. The age at menarche in Vinnea, the relationship between nutrition and fertility. Historical Methods; Fall; 22(4): 158-63.
  2. Livson N & Mc Neill D. The accuracy of recalled age at menarche. Human Biology, 1962; 34:218.
  3. Malina, Robert M. Adolescent changes in size, build, composition and performance. Human Biology, 1974; 46(1) : 117 - 131.
  4. Tanner J M. Growth at Adolescence. 2nd edition. Oxford Blackwell Scientific Publication, 1962.

Deptt. of P&SM, Smt. N.H.L. Municipal Medical College, Ellisbridge, Ahemedabad,

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