Oral contraceptive use and bone density in adolescent and young adult women

Delia Scholes, Laura Ichikawa, Andrea Z. LaCroix, Leslie Spangler, Jeannette M. Beasley, Susan Reed, Susan M. Ott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Most of the millions of oral contraceptive (OC) users are under 30 years of age and in the critical period for bone mass accrual. Study Design: This cross-sectional study of 606 women aged 14-30 years examined both OC duration and estrogen dose and their association with bone mineral density (BMD) at the hip, spine, and whole body (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry). Results: Of 389 OC users and 217 nonusers enrolled, 50% were adolescents (14-18 years). Of OC users, 38% used "low-dose" OCs [<30 mcg ethinyl estradiol (EE)]. In adolescents, mean BMD differed by neither OC duration nor EE dose. However, 19- to 30-year-old women's mean BMD was lower with longer OC use for spine and whole body (p=.004 and p=.02, respectively) and lowest for >12 months of low-dose OCs for the hip, spine and whole body (p=.02, .003 and .002, respectively). Conclusions: Prolonged use of today's OCs, particularly <30 mcg EE, may adversely impact young adult women's bone density while using these agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-40
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Adolescents
  • Bone mineral density
  • Hormones
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Peak bone density

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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