The effects of menopause can be considerably far reaching. In addition to the more widely-known side effects of menopause including hot flashes and night sweats, menopause can lead to long-term physical health issues for women including osteoporosis. During menopause, a woman’s body stops producing the hormone estrogen. Estrogen is critical in helping to protect the body from a loss in bone density and osteoporosis. That’s why osteoporosis is so common in women who have already transitioned into menopause. In honor of National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month this May, the reproductive healthcare experts here at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett wanted to provide some helpful information on how osteoporosis can be effectively prevented and treated.
- Maintain a bone-friendly diet that is rich in both calcium and healthy proteins to promote strong bones.
- Prioritize vitamin D intake by spending about 15 minutes in the sun every day (though make sure to protect yourself with broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen) and consuming foods and drinks with vitamin D such as oily fish, eggs, and fortified dairy foods or juices. Vitamin D supplements may also be able to help.
- Maintain a stable, healthy body weight as being too light or too heavy can both negatively affect bone health.
- Stay active by performing regular weight-bearing and muscle strengthening exercises.
- Avoid unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking alcohol. Nicotine is toxic for bones and can counteract the good that healthy nutrients like calcium and vitamin D provide. Consuming alcohol in excess can also contribute to additional bone loss.
For women with osteoporosis, there are several treatment options available to help manage symptoms and improve bone density. Being proactive and beginning treatment before osteoporosis worsens over time is critical. In many cases, treatment begins with oral medications and supplements intended to help restore lost bone density. This includes hormone replacement therapies to replenish estrogen that has been lost after menopause as well as vitamin D and calcium supplements. Sometimes prescription medications known as bisphosphonates may also be prescribed as a preventative measure against bone loss. Physical therapy and regular weight-bearing exercise may be able to help some women strengthen bones, maintain muscle tone and joint health, and even reduce or prevent further bone loss.
Whether you have already gone through menopause or you are just beginning your transition, checking up on the health and wellness of your bones is always a good idea. We recommend asking your healthcare provider about a bone mineral density (BMD) test to help gain the information you need about your bone health during your next appointment. For more information or to request an appointment with one of our reproductive healthcare providers, please contact Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter for additional tips, news, and updates on our upcoming health and wellness events. And don’t forget to check out our medical spa, MadEmEl Medical Aesthetics.