Of all the worst symptoms of the menopause, the effect that this major biological transformation can have on the bones is one that is seldom acknowledged. Often overlooked in favour of more recognised symptoms such as hot flushing and night sweats, the decline in density that the bones can experience during the menopause is something that should be given better attention, particularly as it can lead to the development of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a disease characterised by thin, weak bones that may fracture spontaneously or are much more likely to fracture in the event of an accident or fall.
Osteoporosis and the menopause
Although bone loss is a completely natural phenomenon that everyone will experience as they get older, this is something that is likely to be much more severe in women of post-menopausal age because of the lack of oestrogen in their bodies.
After the menopause, in the absence of oestrogen replacement or other medical treatments bones become less dense over time increasing the risk of osteoporosis. This condition is directly attributable to the menopause due to the critical role of oestrogen in the preservation and maintenance of healthy bones in a woman’s body.
Not all post-menopausal women will suffer from problems with their bones, but there are several common risk factors that can lead to osteoporosis in post-menopausal women. For instance, women who have had a hysterectomy or experienced the menopause at an early age (usually 45 or younger) are far more likely to see a reduction in bone density. In most cases, osteoporosis is diagnosed as the result of a bone breaking or fracturing. A special test called a DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan can be performed to measure the bone density. This can be used to compare an individual’s bone density compared to what is considered normal for your age. This is an important test because in women with thinned bones (osteopenia) or thin bones (osteoporosis) specific treatment can be offered to help the bones recover to avoid avoidable fractures..
Treatment for these symptoms
As a form of treatment that offers women relief from the many exhausting and demoralising symptoms of the menopause, hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, can be crucial in both reducing the possibility of the development of osteoporosis and in treating its main symptoms. By booking in for a consultation with Mr Francis Gardner, you will be able to explore these treatment options in depth as the doctor works alongside you to find the best suited treatment for your needs. Get in touch today to find out more.
It’s unlikely that you’ll be diagnosed with osteoporosis unless you’re involved in an accident that would not normally result in a fracture. In some cases, broken ribs can occur as a result of sneezing or coughing – a relatively innocuous cause of a break or fracture that can be attributed to osteoporosis. A special test called a DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan can be performed to measure the bone density. This can be used to compare an individual’s bone density compared to what is considered normal for your age.
This depends on many factors. Lifestyle choices affect the risk of osteoporosis. Cigarette smoking, alcohol, poor diet, low body weight, sedentary lifestyle, all increase the risk of osteoporosis. Healthy lifestyle with regular weight bearing exercise, a healthy diet, limited alcohol consumption, controlled exposure to sunlight are all important in maintaining healthy bones.
Age of the menopause is also critical whether it is natural or due surgical or medical treatment. Early menopause increases the risk of osteoporosis if left untreated. In some cases, a woman’s bone density can already be at a low level prior to the menopause due to lifestyle issues and this can put you at risk of experiencing problems with your bones following the menopause.
Our bones naturally begin to decline in our mid-thirties, so it’s a good idea to be proactive in regards to the health of your bones from an early age. This can involve getting plenty of exercise, not smoking or drinking alcohol and eating well.
HRT can be both a helpful preventative measure and effective treatment for osteoporosis. Of course, this is not suitable for everyone but will always be offered to you following a consultation with Mr Gardner in which your medical history, current symptoms and personal preferences will be discussed.