Definition of Menarche

A woman’s first menstrual period, the start of menstruation and the beginning of fertility.

The average age of menarche varies among cultures and countries throughout the world and largely correlates with nutritional well-being.

In the United States the average age of menarche is 121⁄2; in rural regions of South Africa the average age of menarche is near age 14.

The age of menarche has declined worldwide by nearly a year over the past century, which health experts believe reflects improved nutrition and overall health status. Many cultures celebrate menarche as a rite of passage that ushers a girl into womanhood.

See also AMENORRHEAMENOPAUSEMENSTRUAL CYCLE.

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