• Body mass index;
  • menarche;
  • pelvic girdle pain;
  • pregnancy;
  • risk factors

Please cite this paper as: Bjelland E, Eberhard-Gran M, Nielsen C, Eskild A. Age at menarche and pelvic girdle syndrome in pregnancy: a population study of 74 973 women. BJOG 2011;118:1646–1652.

Objective  To study the association of age at menarche with presence of pelvic girdle syndrome in pregnancy.

Design  Population study.

Setting  Norway 1999–2007.

Population  A total of 74 973 pregnant women in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study.

Methods  Data were obtained by self-administered questionnaires in weeks 17 and 30 of gestation.

Main outcome measure  Pelvic girdle syndrome in pregnancy at 30 weeks of gestation, defined as pain in the pubic symphysis in the anterior pelvis and in both sacroiliac joints in the posterior pelvis.

Results  The prevalence of pelvic girdle syndrome was 20.6% (328/1593) in women with menarche before the age of 11, it was 16.3% (3200/22 044) in women with menarche at the age of 12 and 12.7% (1252/9859) in women with menarche after the age of 14 (chi-square test for trend, P < 0.001). The inverse association of age at menarche with pelvic girdle syndrome remained after adjustment for body mass index, maternal age, parity, educational level, previous low back pain, emotional distress and physically demanding work. Women with early menarche and high body mass index had the highest prevalence of pelvic girdle syndrome, but the association of early menarche with pelvic girdle syndrome was similar in women with and without high body mass index.

Conclusions  Early menarche was associated with increased prevalence of pelvic girdle syndrome in pregnancy. Factors associated with early menarche may play a role in the development of pelvic girdle pain.