Female reproductive system and bone

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


The female reproductive system plays a major role in regulating the acquisition and loss of bone by the skeleton from menarche through senescence. Onset of gonadal sex steroid secretion at puberty is the major factor responsible for skeletal longitudinal and radial growth, as well as significant gain in bone density, until peak bone density is achieved in third decade of life. Gonadal sex steroids then help maintain peak bone density until menopause, including during the transient changes in skeletal mineral content associated with pregnancy and lactation. At menopause, decreased gonadal sex steroid production normally leads to rapid bone loss. The most rapid bone loss associated with decreased estrogen levels occurs in the first 8-10. years after menopause, with slower age-related bone loss occurring during later life. Age-related bone loss in women after the early menopausal phase of bone loss is caused by ongoing gonadal sex steroid deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, and secondary hyperparathyroidism. Other factors also contribute to age-related bone loss, including intrinsic defects in osteoblast function, impairment of the GH/IGF axis, reduced peak bone mass, age-associated sarcopenia, and various sporadic secondary causes. Further understanding of the relative contributions of the female reproductive system and each of the other factors to development and maintenance of the female skeleton, bone loss, and fracture risk will lead to improved approaches for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-128
Number of pages11
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Aging
  • Bone loss
  • Fractures
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sex steroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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