Focuses on Osteoporosis and Menopause

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Osteoporosis is a common disorder among post-menopausal women. Studies show that one in two women ages 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

So, what is Osteoporosis?

According to the (NOF) National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis is a bone disease that causes the body to lose too much bone, make too little bone, or both. Osteoporosis means porous bone.  When our bones are viewed under a microscope, a healthy bone looks like a honeycomb. One with osteoporosis has more significant spaces and holes. The osteoporotic bone has less density or mass and contains abnormal tissue. When bones become less dense, they weaken and break easily.

Bone loss is a silent process. The transition to menopause is the time when bone loss accelerates due to the loss of estrogen.  It is important to note that there is no cure for osteoporosis. The foundation did a survey and found that a majority of postmenopausal women were unaware that fracture is a risk factor for osteoporosis. They stress that women should not ignore fragility fractures as clumsiness, but instead think of them as a sign that they need bone health intervention.

Do you have healthy bones?  How do you maintain your bone health?

  • If you are menopausal get your bone health checked! To determine bone density, you’ll need to schedule a bone scan or bone mineral density (BMD) test. The most common – and most accurate – test is a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan. Try saying that real fast! The bones most commonly tested are those in the spine and hip, and sometimes the forearm is added. If you’re worried about radiation, have no fears. A DXA scan uses low-dose X-rays. According to the National Institutes of Health, you receive more radiation from a chest x-ray.
  • Check your hormones and speak with your menopause specialist about the effects of estrogen loss on your bone health.  According to NOF, MHT (Menopausal Hormone Therapy) is approved for the prevention of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women. It reduces bone loss, increases bone density in the spine and hip, and reduces the risk of fractures in this area.
  • Nutrition: Diet is important. A diet of 5 servings of fruits and green leafy vegetables will help! Check out this excellent list of bone-healthy foods! 
  • Exercise: We know it helps everything! But especially our bones. Balance exercises are helpful. Weight-bearing exercises and muscle strengthening are essential. Check out this great list.
  • Calcium: Speak to your healthcare professional and find out if you are calcium deficient. You may be getting enough calcium from the food you eat. If not, figure out what you are getting and then supplement. Here is the NOF’s recommendation; Women age 50 and younger – 1,000 mg daily and women age 51 and older – 1,2000 mg daily. There is some new info on the impact of low calcium and heart disease risk. You can read more about this here.
  • Vitamin D: Get your D3 checked as it plays a vital role in keeping your bones healthy and able to absorb calcium. There are three ways to get Vit D – sunlight, food, & supplements.   According to the NOF the amount of supplementation also goes by age: Under 50 – 400-800 IU daily and 50 and older – 800-1,000 IU daily. Some people may need more. The safe upper limit is 4,000 IU daily, per the Institute of Medicine.
  • Medication side effects: Some medications can cause Vit D deficiency such as anti-seizure meds.

If you’ve been diagnosed with osteopenia (This is a below normal bone density which can be a precursor to osteoporosis.) consult with your physician to determine the best course of action.

If you find out that you already have osteoporosis, there are many medications to consider.  NOF has a list here.

Please note that the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) is meeting on October 11, 2017, and will be discussing osteoporosis. I am anxious to hear what the latest information is on the long-term effectiveness and safety of treatment with bisphosphonates and denosumab. Close to 20% of bone loss occurs within the first five years of menopause! I am anxious to report on NAMS findings. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, check out those bones!  Find out if you are losing bone mass and need to replace that loss. It is always better to be proactive about your health as opposed to reactive.

Keep the “O” in the bedroom and out of your bones!

Remember:  Suffering in silence is OUT!  Reaching out is IN.

For more great tips on how to find a menopause specialist and deal with menopause, download my free eBook: MENOPAUSE MONDAYS  the Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.

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After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through–before, during, and after menopause–with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a “sister” and confidant to all women fueled Ellen’s first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.

  • Excellent tips Ellen! I would like to advocate after a baseline Bone Density test is done if you are penia, try diet and exercise before medication. Even if you are osteoporosis give alternatives a try before you dig into medications if you have not had any falls.

    • According to Harvard Health Publishing/ Harvard Medical School, if your T-score is under -2, you need to be sure you are doing regular weight-bearing exercise, and you are getting enough vitamin D and dietary calcium. If you’re closer to -2.5, your doctor may consider adding medication to keep your bones strong.

  • Roxanne Jones

    Great advice as always, Ellen. I’ll look forward to reading about what you learn from the upcoming NAMS meeting (and I know we can count on you to share!).

  • Great tips for women over 50 because falling is something you want to avoid especially if your bone density is weak.

    • Agree, Rebecca! We need to keep tabs on our bone health!

  • I’ve been super lucky to have great bone density results for years.

  • Lois Alter Mark

    My doctor just prescribed a weekly Vitamin D pill for me, which I never even heard of. I’m also eating lots of ice cream because, you know, calcium.

    • Haha……..wouldn’t it be nice if our doctors did prescribe ice cream to boost our calcium numbers?!

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