University of Illinois Extension

Estrogen and Osteoporosis

One protecting factor for women is the production of estrogen during child-bearing years. As women age and their menses stop, their bodies stop producing estrogen. Estrogen is a hormone that helps protect against osteoporosis.

For women with irregular menstrual cycles, the risk for osteoporosis may increase. The same is true for athletes experiencing amenorrhea (absence of menstrual periods). Any change in the menstrual cycle is a sign of decreased estrogen levels which can, in turn, lead to osteoporosis.

Even if bones do not break when the female is young, low estrogen levels during the peak years of bone-building, the pre-teen and teen years, can affect bone density for the rest of one's life. Studies show that bone growth lost during these years may never be regained.