Contraceptive Pill Weakens Teens’ Bones
Hormones play a critical role in bone development. Use of hormonal contraception can increase the risk of osteoporosis in later life.
This finding was published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Delia Scholes, PhD was the senior investigator and study leader. She said "The teen years are when women most actively gain bone, so we thought it was important to look at that age group."
The study involved 606 women who were teenagers or young adults. They were all classed as either users or non-user of oral contraceptives. The girls had hip, spine, and whole body bone density tests every six months for between 2 and 3 years. Approximately half of the girls on the pill stopped taking it during the study period. This allowed the researchers to measure changes in bone mineral density after discontinuation of the pill.
To quote professor Scholes regarding 14 to18 year-old girls: "We found that oral contraceptive use had a small negative impact on bone gain at these ages, but took time to appear, and depended on hormone dose." The effect on older women was smaller. Therefore it seems hormonal contraception used during the teenage years is most detrimental for bone health.
The pill is commonly prescribed to young girls for non-contraception reasons. It is often given in an attempt to correct a hormone imbalance. Acne, painful menstrual cramps or irregular cycles are typical symptoms the pill is given to remedy. Of course the synthetic hormones in the pill do not correct any of these conditions; they just temporarily mask them. There are safer, more natural remedies available.
Progesterone deficiency, excessive inflammation and nutrient deficiencies are common culprits and must be addressed. Many teenage girls spend more than a decade taking hormonal contraceptives. This could be having a disastrous effect on their bones. Osteoporosis and osteopenia are such incredibly common conditions in middle aged and older women. Any steps taken to prevent them are worthwhile.