Dr Claire Clarkin, – University of Southampton
Prof Julie Greeves OBE PhD , Professor of Applied Physiology, Army Health and Performance Research (AHPR),
Dr Jemma Kerns – University of Lancaster
Sex differences in bone physiology of young adults are evident with military studies showing female soldiers undertaking arduous military training having increased fracture prevalence than men.
Sex differences in bone physiology of young adults are evident with military studies showing female soldiers undertaking arduous military training having increased fracture prevalence than men. Hormonal contraceptive use is common in the military and the low endogenous oestradiol caused by hormonal contraceptives in female soldiers could negatively impact bone structure, adaptation to exercise, and stress fracture risk. Data have been generated recently from Professor Julie Greeves, at Department of Army Health and Performance Research, Army Headquarters, who has been investigating the effects of hormonal contraceptives on the tibial mechanoadaptive response in female soldiers. In this study, HR-pQCT scans were undertaken in a cohort of 51 female soldiers undergoing arduous training. 75% of the female participants were taking contraceptives including the combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) and POC. The HR-pQCT results showed POC use inhibited the increase in trabecular thickness observed in non-users and COCP users. These data could help understand why POC users appear to have an increased risk of stress in military training. The main aim of this studentship is to combine measurements of bone mineral density, quality, HR-pQCT imaging of the bone vasculature and characterisation of bone matrix composition to investigate sex-specific human skeletal adaptations to exercise at the multiscale. Correlative imaging approaches could provide a more efficient way of predicting and preventing stress fracture and inform Army training strategies to better protect female soldiers from injury.