Combined hormonal contraception and bone health: a systematic review

Contraception. 2006 May;73(5):445-69. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2006.01.003. Epub 2006 Mar 30.


This systematic review examined whether women who use combined hormonal contraception experience changes in risk of fracture or bone mineral density (BMD) that differ from nonusers. We identified 86 articles from PubMed and EMBASE (published 1966 to August 2005) that reported on fracture or BMD outcomes by use of combined hormonal contraceptives. The evidence relating to combined oral contraceptives (COCs) and fracture is inconclusive, as results from the available studies conflict. Studies of adolescent and young adult women generally found lower BMD among COC users than nonusers. Evidence for premenopausal adult women suggested no differences in BMD between COC users and nonusers. COC use in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women preserved bone mass, while nonusers lost BMD, but BMD among former COC users in this age group was the same as for never-users. Evidence for other combined hormonal methods was very limited, with one study indicating no effect of combined hormonal injectable use among premenopausal women on BMD and one study suggesting lower BMD among premenopausal users of the NuvaRing than in nonusers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Humans
  • Menopause


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined