The Link Between Osteoporosis and Menopause

Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become thin, brittle, and weak. These changes can increase the risk of fractures. Fractures caused by osteoporosis have been linked to an increased risk of disability and death.

Women are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis after menopause due to a drop in estrogen levels. Estrogen protects against bone loss, after menopause ovaries produce very little estrogen, resulting in a period of rapid bone loss that starts one year before a woman's final menstrual period and lasts for about three years.

The symptoms of osteoporosis may not show for years, some signs may develop as the disease progresses, including a loss of height and a slight curve of the spine.

Bone mineral density tests are the most accurate way to measure bone health. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) is considered to be the most accurate bone density test available. All women aged 65 years or older who are past menopause are recommended to have a bone density test if they have had a bone fracture due to fragile bones or have other risks such as smoking, heavy drinking, have a family history of osteoporosis, or have rheumatoid arthritis.

During a DEXA test, you lie down for 3 - 10 minutes while a machine scans your body, exposing you to a small dose of radiation, about the same amount as a normal chest X-ray.

If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis there are medications and lifestyle changes that can help prevent fractures. Weight-bearing and non-weigh-bearing exercises can keep bones strong and improve balance, decreasing the risk of falls.

Bonner General Health offers DEXA bone density tests, the most accurate test available to determine bone health. Call 208-265-3349 to schedule your bone density test.