A few hundred years ago women menstruated about 50 times in their lives; now, 500 times. That’s ten times more often. What are the reasons for this?
Women live longer. Currently, women in the European Union have a life expectancy of 82.3 years. In the fifties, they didn’t get older than 72.2 years. It’s expected that the average age women reach in 2030 will be 85.3. In the Middle Ages however, the average life expectancy was between 30 and 40 years. Most women died while giving birth, when they were 18 or 19 years old.
Women menstruate earlier. In 1830, most girls started menstruating when they were 17 years old; around 1900 the average age to get your period was about 14 years. Currently, the average girl gets her first period when she’s about 12.
Women give birth later in life. The average woman gives birth to her first child when she’s 29.4 years. In the seventies this happened when a woman was 24.1 years. The main reasons for this difference: the use of contraceptives, women study longer and choose to have a career first.
Women have less children. In the 19th century the average woman had 6 children. Now, that figure is down to 1.6. From all European countries the French women have the most children: 2.02 on average. Spain and Germany rank last, with 1.3.
Women breastfeed for a shorter period. In the 16th and 17th century it was recommended to breastfeed your children for about two years. In the 18th century this advice changed into 8-9 months. Currently, about 80% of all mothers start breastfeeding their child, but after 3 months, only 30% still continue to do so. When breastfeeding, the ovulation usually stops and there is no menstruation. This is called lactational amenorrhea. The sucking on the breast is what influences the hormones. When the menstrual cycle returns depends on the amount of feedings a day and how long each nursing session lasts. Some figures: 9-30% of all women menstruate within three months of giving birth, 19-53% don’t menstruate in the first half year. The average woman menstruates again between 7 and 14 months after giving birth.