Osteoporosis and Menopause: What You Need to Know

It can be said that the relationship between osteoporosis and menopause has a hormonal origin. In fact, they are strongly linked conditions. We'll tell you more below.
Osteoporosis and Menopause: What You Need to Know

Last update: 26 December, 2022

Due to hormonal changes, bone loss is common throughout (and even after) menopause. For this reason, some women go through osteoporosis and menopause at the same time. What should we know about it? We’ll tell you in this article.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis and menopause are linked.
Osteoporosis usually manifests with bone pain and fractures, which can make surgical interventions necessary.

Osteoporosis is a disease that involves the progressive loss of bone mass. This means that it causes the progressive weakening and deterioration of the bones, making them more prone to fractures. These can also occur due to minor trauma.

As indicated in the MSD Manual, aging and a lack of estrogens are factors that influence its appearance. However, a low intake of sources of calcium and vitamin D, as well as certain pathologies are other factors that must be taken into account.

What is menopause?

Menopause can be defined as the ‘cessation of menstruation and, by extension, the end of a woman’s fertile stage’. It’s part of the natural aging process and usually occurs, on average, at around 51 years of age. However, experts point out that the range is between 45 and 55 years.

One of the most prominent changes in menopause has to do with estrogen levels. As menopause progresses, these decrease. In turn, this produces various changes in the body both physically and psychologically.

Hot flashes, emotional ups and downs, and difficulties in getting a good night’s sleep are some of the symptoms most brought to the doctor’s, although it can cause several other conditions. Its intensity varies from woman to woman, as each one is different.

Estrogens are sex hormones present in both men and women. Although they certainly have a fundamental role in the development of female sexual characteristics, they also help to regulate several of the body’s organs and systems. Therefore, they’re important even after puberty.

They facilitate blood flow and glucose delivery, for example, but they also influence the distribution of body fat and play a key role in bone metabolism. This includes maintaining bone mineralization. So, when they decrease during menopause, the bones weaken.

As stated in the aforementioned MSD Manual publication, “Estrogen deficiency increases bone destruction and results in rapid bone loss.” This is what explains the relationship between osteoporosis and menopause.

Progesterone also plays a key role in maintaining bone mass throughout life. Therefore, when it decreases, the risk of suffering from osteoporosis can also increase.

Risk factors

Osteoporosis and menopause are linked to smoking.
Some bad lifestyle habits, such as smoking, increase the chances of problems with bone metabolism.

It’s important to bear in mind that there’s an increased risk of suffering from osteoporosis in the following cases:

  • Low weight and low bone density: Thinner and smaller women have lower bone mass, which can put you at risk for osteoporosis.
  • Being white or Asian: According to scientific evidence, white and Asian women are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis during menopause.
  • A diet low in calcium and vitamin D: A poor diet can always affect health. If the diet is low in these nutrients, the risk of osteoporosis increases.
  • Alcohol and tobacco: The toxins in alcohol and tobacco can significantly reduce bone mass and thereby increase the risk of osteoporosis in menopausal women.

To reduce risk factors and prevent osteoporosis during menopause, you need to make lifestyle changes. An adequate diet – which may or may not include calcium and vitamin D supplements – in combination with a good exercise routine and other healthy lifestyle habits can be extremely useful in this regard.

At the same time, it’s essential to stop smoking and reduce alcohol consumption to a minimum (although the ideal thing would be to cut it out completely). Put your doctor’s recommendations into practice and attend the periodic check-ups they schedule for you.

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