Objective: Adolescents with anorexia nervosa (AN) are at increased risk of unplanned pregnancies and bone loss, due to low oestrogen levels and low use of efficient contraception. The negative impact of combined hormonal contraceptives (CHC) on peak bone mass during adolescence might limit wider use in anorexic women. Another issue limiting CHC use is the concern, that CHC-induced cyclic bleeding reduces the motivation for further weight gain and thus exerts a negative impact on recovery. We wanted to find evidence based answers about the impact of CHC use on bone health and course of the disease in adolescents with AN.
Methods: We performed a narrative review of the current literature investigating the effect of CHC or progestin-only contraceptives on bone density, body shape and course of disease in young women with anorexia.
Results: There is no evidence that CHC use aggravates the bone loss associated with AN. In long-term users CHC exert a protective effect. Anorexic women using CHC showed at least the same or a greater weight gain in comparison with controls. Eating disorder attitudes did not worsen.
Conclusion: We conclude, that at present there is no evidence, that use of CHC by AN patients has a negative impact on bone density or the course of disease.