Young Girls, Exposed! Early Menstruation, Sexual Debut and Teenage Pregnancy in the Philippines

Christian Joy P. Cruz, University of the Philippines

There is an observed earlier onset of puberty among boys and girls globally. Girls now experience at younger ages pubertal indicators such as public hair growth, breast development and menstruation compared to their mothers, with menstruation indicating reproductive readiness. This paper aims to understand the interconnection between menstruation, sexual debut and teenage pregnancy within the following context: place of residence, religion and socio-economic status. Utilizing the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) data from 1993 to 2008, findings suggest that while early menarche can significantly explain age at sexual debut, it does not significantly predict age at first pregnancy. Age at first sex is the strongest predictor of age at first pregnancy. Teenage girls from poor households mature earlier and also engage in sex earlier than their non-poor counterparts. Place of residence and religion do not influence the interplay of these events in a girl’s life in the Philippines.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Fertility Intentions and Behavior