The Prevention and Treatment of Menopausal Osteoporosis
Menopause is linked with an increased risk of osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease. As people age, they experience bone loss. This is a natural consequence of getting older. Women, however, may experience even higher levels of bone loss as estrogen levels drop during menopause. This bone loss often leads to decreased bone density and an increased risk of osteoporosis.
Menopause, Age and Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition in which a person’s bones grow weaker over time. This condition can become severe enough to put a woman at an increased risk of breaking a bone. According to the Mayo Clinic, it can become so severe that a cough may exert enough pressure to break a bone.
Women are already at a disadvantage when it comes to developing osteoporosis. They are more likely to break a bone because of osteoporosis than men are. Added to this is the fact that a woman’s bone strength reaches its peak when she is in her 30s. After this peak, a woman begins to experience gradual bone loss.
By the time menopause begins, a woman is already experiencing some bone loss. Dropping estrogen levels only make this worse. In fact, lowered estrogen levels can lead to not an only bone loss, but also a condition called osteopenia, which is decreased bone density. Eventually, the bones become weaker, and an osteoporosis diagnosis may soon follow.
Calcium and Menopause
Calcium can help to slow the weakening of bone tissue that accompanies age and menopause. In fact, getting enough calcium can not only prevent the development of osteoporosis but also treat it in those who have already been diagnosed. Menopausal women should consume at least 1200 milligrams of calcium each day. They may need more if they are not taking estrogen.
There are many foods a woman may consume to get calcium during menopause. Among them are dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt. Other food sources of calcium include salmon, sardines, broccoli, spinach, and turnip greens. It is also found in sesame seeds, oregano, and parsley. Women who don’t get enough calcium in their diets may opt to take supplements for bone health.
Medications for Menopausal Osteoporosis
Hormone replacement therapy can help to treat menopausal bone loss and osteoporosis. Estrogen therapy can not only help to prevent further bone loss and decrease the risk of fractures but also make the bones thicker over time. As an added benefit, hormone replacement therapy can even help with unpleasant menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings.
Though hormone replacement therapy can help to prevent and even treat osteoporosis, there are some risks for women who opt for it. A woman who takes hormone replacement therapy may have an increased risk of cancer of the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus. She may also have an increased risk of breast cancer and blood clot development.
Besides hormone replacement, there are many other medications used in treating osteoporosis. Among them are biophosphates, raloxifene, calcitonin, and teriparatide. Each medication has unique benefits and side effects. Additionally, physical therapy may prove helpful for preventing and treating osteoporosis.
Staying Healthy and Active After Menopause
Bone loss and osteoporosis risks are facts of life for women of menopausal age. The risk only increases as a woman grows older. Fortunately, however, there are effective prevention and treatment methods that can help a woman to stay healthy and active.