Document Type



Menarche is the occurrence of a first menstrual period in the female adolescent. The age of menarche has been decreasing over the past 150 years. While some factors have been identified, like increased body mass index (BMI), such factors alone cannot account for the overall decrease in age.

Due to the decreased age of menarche and as additional uses for oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) have been identified, it is becoming clear that females no longer use “birth control” or “oral contraceptives” primarily to prevent pregnancy, but instead for a myriad other reasons including “menstrual suppression.” Menstrual suppression is the use of hormonal methods to diminish undesirable effects of cyclicity such as changes in mood, painful cramps, and unpredictability. OCPs combine estrogens and progestins in a pill form that is taken orally for 21 days, followed by a placebo pill taken for seven days, mimicking the idealized 28-day menstrual cycle. OCPs require a prescription and are 99.7% effective at preventing pregnancy, when taken as directed. Mechanistically, most hormonal interventions prevent the positive-feedback loop between estrogen and luteinizing hormone necessary for ovulation. In addition, some also impact the endometrium and cervical mucus, making both less suitable for implantation and fertilization. Thus, young women begin using OCPs from a young age and switch their prescriptions throughout their reproductive years, yet very little research exists on these modern modifications to OCP use. One goal of this study is to better define and clarify these additional new uses of the birth control pill.

The purpose of this study is two-fold. Firstly, to determine factors affecting the earlier onset of menarche in young girls. Secondly, to better define socio-cultural norms affecting the use of “birth control pills” otherwise known as “the pill.” Additionally, this study aims to document and organize an inventory of women’s OCP brands, cycle characteristics, symptoms and/or side effects, and several other factors while using OCPs. An overall goal of this study is to develop a more accurate understanding of current rationale underlying benefits to OCP use that reside outside of contraceptive-use only.


Biology and Psychology

Thesis Comittee

Dr. Sharon Ramos Goyette, Thesis Advisor

Dr. Merideth Kamradt Krevosky, Thesis Advisor

Dr. Joseph A. Seggio, Committee Member

Dr. James E. Leone, Committee Member

Copyright and Permissions

Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.