Osteoporosis is a skeletal disease that is characterised by low Bone Mineral Density (BMD), bone loss and deterioration of bone tissue. Studies show that as you age, your BMD decreases and thus results in weakened bones and increased risk of unexpected fractures.
According to the World Health Organization, if your T-score is -1 to +1, your BMD is normal. However, if your T-score is between 1.0 to 2.5, you may have osteopenia. If the score 2.5 or more, you may have osteoporosis.
Let us understand how menopause increases the risk of osteoporosis in women.
Menopause and Osteoporosis in Women
During perimenopause and menopause, the levels of oestrogen hormone decrease and result in gradual loss of bone mass. This is because oestrogen not only regulates female reproductive system but also helps in the absorption of calcium and retention of minerals in bones.
Decreased bone mass may lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Until you are about 30 years old, your body builds more bone than it loses. However, as you age and as the oestrogen hormone levels decrease, your body loses more bone mass than it makes. This condition begins once you are in your early to mid-40s when you are in your perimenopause or menopause stage.
What Are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?
The symptoms of osteoporosis are indicated by loss of bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. Yet, when the bone loss occurs in the initial stage, it does not cause any pain or give other noticeable signs. Therefore, it is often referred to as a “silent disease”.
Until the bones become weak, people may not recognise they are suffering from this bone disease. Some individuals may not know their condition until a bump, strain or fall causes a fracture.
Other signs may include acute back pain, loss of height and/or disfigurement of the spine, such as crouched posture (in case of collapsed vertebrae).
Furthermore, family history, medical conditions, medications and prior history of bone or hip fracture also put you at risk of osteoporosis.
Treatment of Osteoporosis
Studies show that women are 4 times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. Also, women over 50 years are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis due to their thinner bones. And women who are lean and petite are at greater risk of osteoporosis because of less BDM than women with larger frames. Therefore, it becomes essential for women to realise the symptoms at the earliest and consult a doctor immediately.
You can discuss the following treatment of osteoporosis with your doctor:
- Taking calcium and vitamin D supplements as per your doctor’s recommendation.
- Taking safe medication, such as Alendronate, Femarelle DT56a (excellent for the treatment of menopausal symptoms), Raloxifene and other drugs.
- Taking bone-building injections, such as Tymlos (Abaloparatide).
- Undergoing hormone therapy.
- Practising weight-bearing exercises.
Food and Nutrition for Osteoporosis
Food and nutrition can play a vital role in reducing the risk of this skeletal disease. The recommended intake of calcium for postmenopausal women and elderly men is up to 1,200 mg every day. You can get calcium from natural resources, such as:
- Dairy products, such as cottage, mozzarella, cheddar cheese
- Yoghurt (low fat)
- Paneer, Tofu
- Vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage
- Leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, collards
- Fruits, such as oranges, prunes, figs
- Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, chia seeds, sesame seeds
You can also take calcium and vitamin D supplements to fill the calcium gap. However, you must take these supplements only after discussing the dosage with your doctor. Overdose of calcium supplements may result in kidney stones and other such medical conditions.
Menopause is a natural transition of a woman from her productive years to period-free era. This transition may be easy for some women, and it can be stressful for others. Women may face many challenges during menopause; and it may result in several challenges – physical, mental and emotional. Do not ignore the warning signs of osteoporosis and risk your bone health. Take charge of your life and start working out at least 30 minutes a day and eat a healthy diet. Instead of feeling low about this change, it is best to seek medical help and manage the symptoms comfortably. Take care of your bone health and walk tall during this change.