You may have heard of hot flashes, dryness, and potential weight gain as typical signs of menopause. However, little does anyone talk about bone loss experienced during this stage. When your bones break down more quickly than they can grow and strengthen themselves, it is called bone loss. Up to 20% of bone loss happens in the first five years after menopause. It can cause osteopenia (low bone mineral density) and osteoporosis, both of which dramatically increase your risk of bone fractures (weak bones). OnlyMyHealth editorial team talked to Dr. Omkar Sadigale, Orthopaedic Surgeon, SRV Hospitals, Chembur, to get better insights about osteoporosis after menopause.
Can osteoporosis develop after menopause?
When you're young, your bones heal fast because they are living, developing tissues that are continually replenishing themselves. A certain degree of bone loss, however, is normal and begins in your 30s. Loss of bone mass results from your bones' inability to repair themselves as quickly as they once could. This is due to oestrogen, or rather the absence of it.
Oestrogen controls your menstrual cycle and guards against bone deterioration. However, as you approach menopause, your body starts to produce less oestrogen, which causes you to lose bone mass.
How can you maintain bone health while going through menopause?
When menopause manifests itself, it's time to consult your doctor. It is crucial to establish and implement a bone loss prevention strategy with your doctor. It's a perfect opportunity to discuss your family history, lifestyle, and medicines, as well as what you can do to stay strong and healthy, and to obtain a baseline bone density test. A few ways in which you can take care of your bone health are:
1. A healthy way of life
It should come as no surprise that the same lifestyle choices medical professionals advice for maintaining general health also support bone health. This comprises:
• Frequent activity, especially weight-bearing workouts.
• Consuming a balanced diet and receiving enough vitamin D and calcium.
• Avoiding smoking and moderate the use of alcohol.
However, it might not be sufficient to prevent bone loss. All the exercise, milk, and vitamin D in the world won't reverse bone loss if it's happening quickly. Many women require prescription treatment, particularly those who have fractured bones or have many risk factors. Additionally, there are several safe, efficient methods available to stop bone thinning, promote bone growth, and lower your risk of osteoporosis.
2. Keeping up to date on health screening
Aside from annual checks, if you experience a general weakness, bone or back pain, it may be a good time to visit your doctor and stay current on certain blood investigations such as complete blood count, vitamins, thyroid and parathyroid hormones. A DEXA scan, used as a screening tool for diagnosis, reveals bone mineral density.
3. Hormone substitute treatment
One of the treatment options for menopause-related conditions, including bone loss, is hormone replacement therapy (HT), since it addresses every symptom you have. HT is often the first and best line of action since it combats some of the painful menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness, and also avoids bone loss.
4. Medications for injection
Based on the investigations, your doctor will start with a treatment regimen consisting of drugs that prevent bone loss and those that accelerate bone formation or a combination of both. The choice of medications depends on the severity of osteoporosis and alteration in the blood parameters. If you have severe osteoporosis, your doctor could recommend self-administered injectable bone-building anabolic drugs.
Just because you feel fine, you could believe that you are not at risk for bone loss. No aches or pains in the joints, no fractures—no issues, right? Not exactly. In other words, it is important to talk to your doctor about avoiding osteopenia and osteoporosis if you're going through menopause or beginning to notice symptoms.