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Epidemiol Rev. 2014;36:137-47. doi: 10.1093/epirev/mxt012. Epub 2013 Nov 25.

Negative spinal bone mineral density changes and subclinical ovulatory disturbances--prospective data in healthy premenopausal women with regular menstrual cycles.

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  • 1Abbreviations: BMD, bone mineral density; DXA, dual energy x-ray absorptiometry; LS-QBT, least-square quantitative basal body temperature; PdG, pregnanediol-3-glucuronide; QCT, quantitative computed tomography.


Subclinical ovulatory disturbances (anovulation or short luteal phases within normal-length menstrual cycles) indicate lower progesterone-to-estrogen levels. Given that progesterone plays a bone formation role, subclinical ovulatory disturbances may be associated with bone loss or less than expected bone gain. Our purpose was to perform a meta-analysis of prospective studies in healthy premenopausal women to determine the overall relationship of subclinical ovulatory disturbances to change in bone mineral density. Two reviewers independently identified from serial literature searches 6 studies meeting inclusion criteria: a 2-year study in 114 young adult women, 2006-2009, Vancouver, Canada; a 2-year study in 189 premenopausal women, 2000-2005, Toronto, Canada; a single-cycle study in 14 young women, 1996-1997, Melbourne, Australia; an 18-month study in 53 women, 1990-1995, Santa Clara, California; a 4-year study in 27 women, 1988-1995, Vancouver, Canada; and a 1-year study in 66 women, 1985-1988, Vancouver, Canada. This meta-analysis included a combined sample size of 473 observations in 436 premenopausal women studied over 1-4 years and aged 14-47 years. The percentage of women with ovulatory disturbances varied significantly from 13% to 82%. Women with more frequent ovulatory disturbances had more negative percentage changes in spine bone mineral density (weighted mean difference = -0.86; P = 0.040) for random-effects analysis. There was significant heterogeneity among these 6 studies (I(2) = 80%). In summary, these data show that regularly menstruating women with more frequent ovulatory disturbances experience more negative changes in bone (approximately -0.9% per year). These cycles with silent estrogen/progesterone imbalance may be clinically important.


bone mineral density; osteoporosis risk; ovulatory disturbances; premenopause; progesterone

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