Female hormonal factors and osteoarthritis of the knee, hip and hand: a narrative review

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Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of disability with no cure. The incidence of osteoarthritis is sexually dimorphic: women have a higher rate of osteoarthritis than men after the age of 50. Research has investigated the contribution of sex hormones, reproductive factors and hormone supplementation to osteoarthritis. It has been recognized that different joints are susceptible to different risk factors for osteoarthritis. We reviewed the evidence for the effect of endogenous sex hormones, reproductive factors and hormone supplementation on joint-specific osteoarthritis of the knee, hip and hand. Although the role of these hormonal factors in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis is complex, data suggest that endogenous hormones and reproductive factors have a role in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis, especially knee osteoarthritis, with uncertainty for the effect of exogenous hormones. From the available data, it is hard to conclude whether this is a direct effect of hormonal factors, or whether other factors related to these hormonal factors, i.e. obesity and inflammation, have a role in this association. Further studies should consider the mediation effect of body weight and inflammation, change in body weight throughout life, circulatory levels of all endogenous hormones and circulatory levels of hormones after hormone supplementation in this complex relationship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-139
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2018


  • hormone replacement therapy
  • menarche
  • menopause
  • oral contraceptive pills
  • parity
  • reproductive factors
  • Sex hormones

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