The surprising link between your first period and your health.

Image: Praise the inventor of the water bottle. (via iStock)

Some ‘firsts’ in life are difficult to recall – especially when it comes to the nitty-gritty details. First detention, anyone? The first time you wore your hair in a braid? Exactly.

Other milestones, however, are etched into our memories for ever more: those first kisses, first breakups, first job interviews… and of course, the first period. We bet you can remember how you felt and where you where when you officially ‘became a woman’ – not to mention how mortified you were when your mum inevitably told your dad about it.

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We’re also certain you can tell us exactly how old you were.

But here’s something you probably don’t know about your first period: according to new research, the age you got it could be a marker for your cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, it seems early and late bloomers drew the short straw here.

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An Oxford University study, published in the journal Circulation, examined the health of more than one million women. The findings suggest those women who had their first period before age 10 or after the age of 17 were more likely to be hospitalised for, or die from, heart disease, stroke, or complications related to high blood pressure.

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Women who began menstruating at age 13 had the lowest risk of developing these health issues.

We know what you're thinking, and we agree: life is unfair. It's not like there's anything you can do now to retrospectively change how old you were when you started getting periods.

What you can do, however, is follow six steps researchers have recently identified as crucial to preventing heart disease among women: not smoking, not drinking more than one alcohol drink per day, maintaining a Body Mass Index in the 'normal' range (from 18.5 to 24.9), watching less than 7 hours of TV per week, and ensuring your diet is packed with veggies and wholegrains and low in meat, sugar and refined gains.

How old were you when you got your first period?

We bet your first period would have felt far less awkward if online shopping had existed back then. Now, you can get all your supplies online - here, let us help you: