Hormonal treatment for low bone mineral density for anorexia nervosa

Some evidence – there is enough evidence to indicate that this can be a helpful treatment option for young people aged between 13-17.

During childhood and the teenage years our bones develop and become strong. Being underweight and not eating enough as a child or young person can cause poorer bone growth and can even lead to your bones becoming weaker (often called low bone mineral density). Low bone mineral density can in turn lead to an increased risk of fractures. Children and young people who have anorexia are at risk of low bone mineral density. The most effective way of reversing this is to reach a healthy weight for your age and height. If your low weight persists, then low bone mineral density can become irreversible.

Your professional might offer you a bone mineral density scan if you’ve been underweight for a year or if you have had bone pain, recurrent fractures or faltering growth. If you need treatment for low bone mineral density, then you should be referred to a specialist paediatric or metabolic bone clinic for treatment.

If you are a girl aged between 13 and 17 years old and you have long term low body weight, you could be offered a hormone treatment called Transdermal 17-β-estradiol with cyclic progesterone. Your doctor could also suggest oestrogen therapy as a treatment for low bone mineral density, but this is not routine and they should seek specialist advice.

If you are a boy and have had long term low body weight then you might also be at risk for low bone mineral density. The treatment your professional suggests will be different to that offered to girls and you should be referred to a specialist paediatric or metabolic bone clinic for treatment.

Treatments outlined on these webpages may not be available in every local area. It’s important that you discuss with your GP or mental health professional the treatment options available to you. You can also search for services near you on our Youth Wellbeing Directory and find out more about referral processes here.

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