Spine and total body bone mineral density in amenorrheic endurance athletes

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1993 Jun;74(6):2904-8. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1993.74.6.2904.


Lumbar spine, total body, and regional bone mineral densities (BMDs) were measured in eumenorrheic and amenorrheic runners and triathletes by using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (Lunar DPX). Values were also compared with age- and weight-matched reference data from the Lunar British database. The amenorrheic group had significantly lower lumbar spine (P = 0.003), arm (P = 0.018), trunk (P = 0.014), and total spine (P < 0.0001) BMDs compared with the eumenorrheic group and significantly lower lumbar (P = 0.002) and total spine (P < 0.001) values compared with the reference controls. Leg (P = 0.009) and arm (P < 0.001) densities were significantly higher than controls. All regions, apart from the lumbar spine, were significantly higher in the eumenorrheic group compared with the reference group. There were no within-group differences for the runners and triathletes. Compared with the eumenorrheic athletes, the amenorrheic women had significantly later age of menarche (P = 0.0032). The type of physical activity undertaken by these athletes can compensate for the loss of menses at the majority of skeletal sites with the exception of the spine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amenorrhea / etiology
  • Amenorrhea / metabolism*
  • Body Composition
  • Bone Density*
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Osteoporosis / etiology
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Spine / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Calcium, Dietary