There is a need to further understand the impact of the menstrual cycle and phase of combined oral contraceptive (COC) use on the pre-analytical variability of markers of bone metabolism in order to improve standardisation procedures for clinical practice and research. The aim of this study was to assess bone metabolism marker concentrations across the menstrual cycle and phases of COC use. Carboxy-terminal cross-linking telopeptide of type I collagen (β-CTX), procollagen type 1 N propeptide (P1NP) and Bone alkaline phosphatase (Bone ALP) concentrations were assessed in eumenorrheic women (n = 14) during the early follicular, ovulatory and mid-luteal phases of the menstrual cycle and in COC (Microgynon®) (n = 14) users on day 2–3 of pill consumption (PC1), day 15–16 pill consumption (PC2) and day 3–4 of the pill free interval (PFI). β-CTX was significantly (−16%) lower at PC2 compared to PC1 (P = 0.015) in COC users and was not affected by menstrual cycle phase (P > 0.05). P1NP and Bone ALP were not significantly different across either menstrual cycle phase or phase of COC use (all P > 0.05). There was no difference in pooled bone marker concentrations between eumenorrheic women and COC users (P > 0.05). In contrast to some previous studies, this study showed that bone marker concentrations do not significantly fluctuate across the menstrual cycle. Furthermore, bone resorption markers are significantly affected by phase of COC use, although bone formation markers do not significantly vary by COC phase. Therefore, the phase of COC use should be considered in clinical practice and research when assessing markers of bone metabolism as this can impact circulating concentrations of bone metabolic markers yet is not currently considered in existing guidelines for best practice.
Bone; Marker; Metabolism; Oestrogen; Oral contraceptive; Menstrual cycle