Women with anorexia nervosa should not be treated with estrogen or birth control pills in a bone-sparing effect

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2013 Aug;92(8):877-80. doi: 10.1111/aogs.12178. Epub 2013 Jun 15.


Eating disorders are prevalent, serious conditions that affect mainly young women. An early and enduring sign of anorexia is amenorrhea. There is no evidence for benefits of hormone therapy in patients with anorexia; however, hormone medication and oral contraceptives are frequently prescribed for young women with anorexia as a prevention against and treatment for low bone mineral density. The use of estrogens may create a false picture indicating that the skeleton is being protected against osteoporosis. Thus the motivation to regain weight, and adhere to treatment of the eating disorder in itself, may be reduced. The most important intervention is to restore the menstrual periods through increased nutrition. Hormone and oral contraceptive therapy should not be prescribed for young women with amenorrhea and concurrent eating disorders.

Keywords: Amenorrhea; anorexia; eating disorders; hormone therapy; oral contraceptive therapy; osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amenorrhea / etiology
  • Amenorrhea / therapy
  • Anorexia Nervosa / complications
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy*
  • Bone Density
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal*
  • Contraindications
  • Estrogens*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intrauterine Devices
  • Menstruation
  • Nutritional Status
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal
  • Estrogens