Primary research

Presence of vasomotor symptoms is associated with lower bone mineral density

Objective: To determine whether women with vasomotor symptoms (VMS) have lower bone mineral density (BMD) than women without VMS.


We analyzed data from baseline to annual follow-up visit 5 for 2213 participants in the bone substudy of the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. At baseline, women were aged 42 to 52 years, had intact uterus and ≥1 ovary, were not using exogenous hormones, were not pregnant or lactating, and were pre- or early perimenopausal. Menopausal stage and VMS were assessed by annual questionnaire. Menopausal stages were premenopausal, early perimenopausal, late perimenopausal, and postmenopausal. Using repeated measures mixed models, we determined the association between VMS (any vs. none) and BMD (by dual x-ray absorptiometry) within each menopause status category.


After controlling for age, time within each menopausal stage, race/ethnicity, study site, and baseline menopause stage, postmenopausal women with any VMS had lower lumbar (0.008g/cm2 lower, P=0.001) and lower total hip (0.005 g/cm2 lower, P=0.04) BMD than postmenopausal women without VMS. Compared to early perimenopausal women without VMS, early perimenopausal women with any VMS had lower femoral neck BMD (0.003g/cm2 lower, P=0.0001). Premenopausal women with any VMS had lower femoral neck BMD (0.003g/cm2 lower, P=0.03), compared to premenopausal women without VMS.


Even in the earliest menopause transition stages, women with VMS had lower BMD than women without VMS. Effects varied by anatomical site, being most evident in postmenopausal women at the lumbar spine and total hip, and among premenopausal and early perimenopausal women at the femoral neck.