Study: Primary Ovarian Insufficiency Associated With Increased Risk of Osteoporosis

March 9, 2021
Jill Murphy, Associate Editor

Osteoporosis is a skeletal condition characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue that leads to fragility and an increased risk of fracture.

A new study comparing the bone health outcomes of women with primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) and early menopause versus women who experienced menopause at the standard age confirmed an association between POI and osteoporosis, according to findings published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society.

Osteoporosis is a skeletal condition characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue that leads to fragility and an increased risk of fracture. The disease affects women more than men and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality when osteoporotic fractures occur, leading to an increased rate of institutionalization and risk for mortality, according to the study.

Previous studies have suggested an association between osteoporosis and POI, or loss of ovarian function before 40 years of age, and the current study is the first one to be done on a larger scale with more than 12,000 participants, according to the authors. Further, the current study confirms the findings of smaller studies that demonstrated an association between POI and early menopause, described as the loss of ovarian function between 40 and 45 years of age, on bone mineral density and osteoporosis.

Specifically, women with POI were shown to have higher odds of osteoporosis and were more likely to be taking osteoporosis drugs, according to the press release.

In addition, the research team found that the use of hormone therapy reduced the odds for osteoporosis that many women were not being adequately treated or even made aware of the benefits of hormones in reducing their risk. The study confirmed that women with POI were more likely to be obese, have decreased physical activity levels, and currently smoked. It is estimated that 1% to 4% of women worldwide have POI, which means a significant number of women are at increased risk for osteoporosis, according to the study.

"This study highlights the elevated risk of osteoporosis for women experiencing menopause before the age of 40 years and underscores the importance of the use of hormone therapy at least until the natural age of menopause in order to reduce the significant morbidity and mortality associated with osteoporotic fractures," said Stephanie Faubion, MD, NAMS medical director, in a press release.

REFERENCE

Primary ovarian insufficiency associated with increased risk of osteoporosis. EurekAlert! https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-03/tnam-poi030221.php. Published March 3, 2021. Accessed March 3, 2021.