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Here’s Why Menopause Puts You at a Greater Risk for Osteoporosis

Menopause and osteoporosis seem to go hand in hand. But you may be wondering why and how the two are related. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just because of getting older. 

Women are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis than men, and the reason why has to do with female hormones. Dr. William Brelsford, MD, offers this guide to understanding more about the connection between menopause and osteoporosis.

What osteoporosis is

Osteoporosis literally means porous bones. When you have osteoporosis, your bones begin to weaken from the inside out. Inside your bones is a form of tissue that is similar to a sponge.

As you get older, this spongy tissue becomes weaker. The holes of the sponge grow wider and further apart. This means that your bones are not as strong, putting you at an increased risk of bone breakage if you fall.

Why menopause increases the likelihood of osteoporosis

Your bones continue to grow in density throughout your early life, beginning to level off in your 30s. The loss of estrogen during perimenopause (the phase of up to 10 years before your last period) and menopause causes more bone to be lost.

At first, there are few symptoms of bone loss. Over time, you may notice symptoms such as hip pain, back or neck pain, and stooped posture or loss of height. When osteoporosis is at its worst, you can even crack a rib or vertebrae from coughing too hard. 

Other risk factors for osteoporosis

Loss of estrogen due to menopause is the most common cause of osteoporosis, but other factors can also increase your risk. Some of these other risk factors include the following:

How to prevent or treat osteoporosis

Although osteoporosis is relatively common, it is still preventable in many cases. The incidence of osteoporosis is going down overall. That’s partly because there are many things you can do to reduce your risk.

Take vitamin D and calcium

Many women have already heard that taking calcium supplements can reduce the risk of osteoporosis. However, it’s important that your calcium supplement includes vitamin D or that you take an additional vitamin D supplement. Calcium requires vitamin D for proper absorption.

Stop smoking

Quitting smoking has a long list of benefits for your health. In addition to significantly increasing your rate of bone loss, smoking also increases your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Do weight-bearing exercises

Weight-bearing exercises, which can include some types of yoga and weightlifting, can strengthen your bones and slow down bone loss. Don’t worry that you’ll become big and bulky; most women don’t have the hormones to develop bulky muscles, even after menopause. Even using light hand weights can be helpful.

Consider hormone replacement

Particularly if you go through menopause before age 45, you should consider taking replacement hormones. Dr. Brelsford can help you find the right combination of hormones, which can slow down the rate of bone loss and provide relief from menopause-related symptoms.

Ask about osteoporosis-preventing medications

Certain medications that are in a class called bisphosphonates can help with bone loss. Some brand names include Boniva®, Reclast®, and Fosamax®. Ask Dr. Brelsford if he thinks one of these medications might be right for you.

When it comes to osteoporosis, prevention is always better than treatment. Do everything you can to maintain your bones while you’re younger, including taking vitamin D and calcium supplements and doing regular bone-building exercises. But if osteoporosis has already developed, it’s not too late to start treatment. Call Dr. William Brelsford today or request an appointment online.

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