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JAMA. 1990 Jan 26;263(4):545-8.

Menstrual history as a determinant of current bone density in young athletes.

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Department of Medicine, Pacific Medical Center, Seattle, WA 98144.


The relationship of prior menstrual irregularities and current menstrual status to the bone density of 97 young athletes was determined at seven sites using single- and dual-photon absorptiometry. Menstrual patterns were ranked on a scale of 1 to 9 in terms of their potential adverse affect on bone. Only vertebral density was significantly related to menstrual patterns (r = -.43). Women who had always had regular cycles had higher lumbar densities (1.27 g/cm2) than those with a history of oligomenorrhea/amenorrhea interspersed with regular periods (1.18 g/cm2). The lumbar density of both groups exceeded that of women who had never had regular cycles (1.05 g/cm2). Body weight became more important as a predictor variable as the severity of menstrual irregularities increased. The combination of menstrual pattern and body weight predicted 43% of the total variation in lumbar density. These data suggest that extended periods of oligomenorrhea/amenorrhea may have a residual effect on lumbar bone density.

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