There are a few classic symptoms of menopause that most women expect to experience once they transition from childbearing years. Chances are, you've heard about the sweaty nights and “power surges” by talking to your doctor and friends. But, hearing about the symptoms isn't the same as experiencing them yourself.
During menopause, your body goes through some dramatic changes that have lasting effects. Although your thermostat may finally regulate and your sleep cycle and weight issues may eventually return to normal, your bones may never be the same.
Understanding the connection between menopause and osteoporosis can prevent bone loss and help you identify the signs, so you can act fast to treat the condition.
Dr. Bhavani Jeereddy and our team at Kenilworth Primary Care are here to help you navigate all the aspects of menopause and manage the symptoms that come with it, including osteoporosis.
Estrogen, menopause, and osteoporosis
Estrogen, one of the main female hormones, plays a key role in your menopausal symptoms. During your reproductive years, estrogen is plentiful and free-flowing. But during menopause, estrogen dramatically declines and your body takes notice.
All the things that relied on estrogen to keep them thriving — your uterus, ovaries, vagina, breasts, even cognitive and cardiovascular health — start to change as well. Your period stops, your vagina loses its lubrication, and you may gain weight, lose your desire to have sex, and have trouble concentrating. And yes, your bones get weaker, too.
If you could see inside your bones, you’d see a hard outer casing that covers an inner core full of holes and spaces like Swiss cheese or a sponge. Estrogen keeps your bones strong inside and out by stimulating osteoblasts, the cells that produce bone. Lower estrogen leads to larger pores, less density, and weaker bones.
And osteoporosis can sneak up on you without warning. If your bones are weakening and you take even a minor fall, you could fracture a bone. In fact, it could happen during events even less dramatic than a fall — a big sneeze or cough could do it, too.
Other factors that lead to osteoporosis
Menopause and a drop in estrogen are only the tip of the osteoporosis iceberg. Your bones start losing density after age 30 or 40, so add that to the list of cons. Plus, being a woman puts you at higher risk for osteoporosis than men. So, if you’re a middle-aged menopausal woman, you have three of the main risk factors.
Other contributors to osteoporosis include:
- Having a thin or petite body type
- Not building enough bone density during your youth
- Having had multiple bone fractures
- Calcium and vitamin D deficiency
- Ethnicity: Caucasian women suffer from osteoporosis more than others
Some factors you can control, others you can’t, but you can get out in front of osteoporosis before it causes too much damage. If you know you have one or more of these risk factors, come in and see Dr. Jeereddy for a bone mineral density test to find out where you stand and what can be done to slow or stop the progression of osteoporosis.
Dr. Jeereddy may prescribe medication to help you maintain your bone density or hormone replacement therapy to help bring your estrogen back into balance. It may also help to start taking calcium and vitamin D supplements to support your bone health.
To find out more about osteoporosis and the health of your bones, contact us for an appointment today. The sooner you know what’s going on inside your bones, the better your chance of avoiding a fracture later.