An important factor in a girl’s feelings about menstruation as well as psychological outcomes is the timing of menarche. Reaching menarche early compared to one’s peers has been implicated as a risk factor for multiple negative outcomes including depression, delinquency, body dissatisfaction, and substance abuse. Early menarche also involves a convergence of biological and contextual factors that interact to influence psychological outcomes. In this paper we first review the biology of menarche. Drawing from studies conducted in the U.S. as well as European nations and New Zealand, we synthesize the research on environmental factors that contribute to early menarche, as well as evidence that early menarche changes a girl’s social environment. Then we review the hormonal influence hypothesis, the maturation disparity hypothesis, the contextual amplification hypothesis, and the accentuation hypothesis as models that may explain the mechanisms by which early menarche contributes to negative psychological outcomes. Finally, we describe how both mediation and moderation models can be used to understand the processes that link early menarche to adverse outcomes.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: May 11, 2011
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