As many women know, once they pass the menopausal stage in life, they are at greater risk for osteoporosis. The classic hormone replacement therapy that some physicians prescribe for their female patients might be of some help to prevent osteoporosis. However, in recent years hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has shown to have many less than desirable side effects for women. This has led some women to avoid hormone replacement therapies altogether and simply suffer in silence with their concerns.
Menopause and Bone Density
Lack of bone density begins to occur during menopausal years due to hormonal fluctuations and the eventual decrease of key hormones in the body. Since women have a lower peak bone density than men to begin with, they are far more likely to develop osteoporosis or osteopenia, which is defined as a lower bone density than normal but not low enough yet to classify as osteoporosis. In fact, women are four times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis in their lifetime.
For younger people, the bone-building process in the body keeps pace with the normal bone breakdown process that occurs in every healthy individual. During the menopausal years and thereafter, bone breakdown begins to outpace the bone-building process, resulting in a gradual loss of bone mass. Often osteopenia and osteoporosis are called the “silent killers” because most women do not have any symptoms from these diseases at all until they experience a bone fracture from what would normally be a fairly benign bump, strain or fall.
Who is at Risk?
If you have a family history of osteoporosis, if you smoke or drink, if you are white or Asian, if you have limited physical activity or are very thin, you are more at risk of developing osteopenia, followed eventually by osteoporosis. In addition, those individuals exposed to radiation, or who have undergone chemotherapy or have taken steroids on a regular basis such as for asthma, are at higher risk for developing bone density and bone loss issues. Individuals who have eating disorders or metabolism problems that reduce their body’s ability to properly absorb vitamins and minerals are at higher risk as well.
How to Prevent Osteopenia or Osteoporosis
So what can mature females do in order to reduce the risk of bone fractures while reducing any harmful consequences from hormone replacement therapies? There are certain lifestyle changes that can make a difference including smoking cessation and reducing or eliminating alcoholic drinks. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help, along with an adequate intake of both Vitamin D and calcium. An exercise programme that contains weight-bearing exercises can help as well. Weight-bearing exercises like walking, tennis and jogging help the body to increase its bone-building processes resulting in greater bone density and reduced bone loss.
If you are a woman around menopausal age, you might also want to consider taking bio-identical hormones to increase your bone density, particularly if you have any of the risk factors or if you have had a bone density test with less than optimal results. Bio-identical hormone therapy (BHRT), especially in oral or patch forms, has shown to slow bone loss, reduce the risk of bone fractures and increase bone mineral density (BMD). Here at Doctor Allie’s Vitality Clinic, we can create a personalised balance of bio-identical hormones for your specific physiology. In addition, bio-identical hormone therapies can also help relieve other bothersome symptoms of both perimenopause and menopause that women experience during these phases of their life.
If you have any concerns regarding osteopenia, osteoporosis or the effects of perimenopause or menopause on your general health, please contact us.