Gender Differences in Risk Behaviours: Does Sexual Maturation Matter?




adolescence, gender differences, health behaviours and attitudes


Background: Menarche is a milestone of entering puberty, representing an indicator of sexual maturity and revealing normal physical, biological, psychological, and emotional development. This study aimed to compare pre-menarche girls, same age post-menarche girls, and boys according to risk behaviours.

Methods: Participants (n=2608) completed a comprehensive survey regarding headache, irritability, feeling nervous, tobacco use, drinking beer, physical fighting, diet, and perception of health.

Results: The prevalence of having headaches (p<0.001), being irritable or having a bad temper (p<0.001), feeling nervous (p<0.001), being on a diet (p<0.001) was significantly higher among post-menarche girls than boys and pre-menarche girls. Post-menarche girls had a poorer perception of health (p<0.001). After adjusted data for socioeconomic status and BMI, frequency of having headaches, bad temper and feeling nervous was higher for post-menarche girls.

Conclusions: Specific school-based intervention is required so that the perception of well-being and social participation can be maintained during after menarche.


Akther A, Islam R. A study on age at menarche of school going girls in Bangladesh. American Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences. 2012;2(2):4-9.

Biro FM, Galvez MP, Greenspan LC, Succop PA, Vangeepuram N, Pinney SM, et al. Pubertal assessment method and baseline characteristics in a mixed longitudinal study of girls. Pediatrics. 2010;126(3):e583-90.

Kanotra S, Bangal V, Bhavthankar D. Menstrual pattern and problems among rural adolescent girls. IJBAR. 2013;4(8).

Talma H, Schonbeck Y, van Dommelen P, Bakker B, van Buuren S, Hirasing RA. Trends in menarcheal age between 1955 and 2009 in the Netherlands. PLoS One. 2013;8(4):e60056.

Gohlke B, Woelfle J. Growth and puberty in German children: is there still a positive secular trend? Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2009;106(23):377-82.

Anderson SE, Must A. Interpreting the continued decline in the average age at menarche: results from two nationally representative surveys of U.S. girls studied 10 years apart. J Pediatr. 2005;147(6):753-60.

Ge X, Jin R, Natsuaki MN, Gibbons FX, Brody GH, Cutrona CE, et al. Pubertal maturation and early substance use risks among African American children. Psychol Addict Behav. 2006;20(4):404-14.

Wu M, Zhou R, Huang Y. Effects of menstrual cycle and neuroticism on females' emotion regulation. Int J Psychophysiol. 2014;94(3):351-7.

Hillard PJ. Menstruation in adolescents: what do we know? And what do we do with the information? J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2014;27(6):309-19.

Haugland S, Wold B, Stevenson J, Aaroe LE, Woynarowska B. Subjective health complaints in adolescence. A cross-national comparison of prevalence and dimensionality. Eur J Public Health. 2001;11(1):4-10.

Wiklund M, Malmgren-Olsson EB, Ohman A, Bergstrom E, Fjellman-Wiklund A. Subjective health complaints in older adolescents are related to perceived stress, anxiety and gender - a cross-sectional school study in Northern Sweden. BMC Public Health. 2012;12(993.

Mahalik JR, Levine Coley R, McPherran Lombardi C, Doyle Lynch A, Markowitz AJ, Jaffee SR. Changes in health risk behaviors for males and females from early adolescence through early adulthood. Health Psychol. 2013;32(6):685-94.

Schinke SP, Fang L, Cole KC. Substance use among early adolescent girls: risk and protective factors. J Adolesc Health. 2008;43(2):191-4.

Gaudineau A, Ehlinger V, Vayssiere C, Jouret B, Arnaud C, Godeau E. Age at onset of menarche: Results from the French Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study. Gynecologie Obstetrique & Fertilite. 2010;38(6):385-87.

Cance JD, Ennett ST, Morgan-Lopez AA, Foshee VA, Talley AE. Perceived pubertal timing and recent substance use among adolescents: a longitudinal perspective. Addiction. 2013;108(10):1845-54.

Walls ML. Marijuana and alcohol use during early adolescence: Gender differences among American Indian/first nations youth. Journal of Drug Issues. 2008;38(4):1139-60.

Downing J, Bellis MA. Early pubertal onset and its relationship with sexual risk taking, substance use and anti-social behaviour: a preliminary cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health. 2009;9(446.

Matos MG, Simões C, Tomé G, Camacho I, Ferreira M, Reis M, et al. A saúde dos adolescentes portugueses. Relatório do estudo HBSC 2010 [The health of Portuguese adolescents. Report of the 2010 HBSC study]. Cruz-Quebrada: Edições FMH; 2011.

Roberts C, Freeman J, Samdal O, Schnohr CW, de Looze ME, Nic Gabhainn S, et al. The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study: methodological developments and current tensions. Int J Public Health. 2009;54 Suppl 2(140-50.

Cole TJ, Bellizzi MC, Flegal KM, Dietz WH. Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: international survey. BMJ. 2000;320(7244):1240-3.

Swain MS, Henschke N, Kamper SJ, Gobina I, Ottova-Jordan V, Maher CG. An international survey of pain in adolescents. BMC Public Health. 2014;14(447.

King S, Chambers CT, Huguet A, MacNevin RC, McGrath PJ, Parker L, et al. The epidemiology of chronic pain in children and adolescents revisited: a systematic review. Pain. 2011;152(12):2729-38.

Abu-Arafeh I, Razak S, Sivaraman B, Graham C. Prevalence of headache and migraine in children and adolescents: a systematic review of population-based studies. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2010;52(12):1088-97.

Matos MG, Sampaio D. Jovens com saúde: diálogos com uma geração. Lisboa: Texto Editores, Lda; 2009.

Matos MG, Tomé G. [Social Adventure: promoting competences and social capital]. Lisboa: Placebo; 2012.






Medical Humanities