CHRISTCHURCH WOMEN'S HOSPITAL
Gynaecology Services - Osteoporosis
One consequence of the menopause is osteoporosis, also called brittle or porous bones.
Bone is a living tissue. The loss of oestrogen after the menopause causes women to lose bone mineral faster than men. This condition causes a loss of bone mass, and may lead to osteoporosis.
If a woman develops osteoporosis, the result is fractured bones, most often in the wrist, spine or hip.
Spinal fractures cause the bone to compress, which is why you see so many elderly women who have lost height and have "humped backs" (Dowagers humps).
Do all women lose bone mass?
Women at risk include:
What are the chances that I will develop Osteoporosis?
We know that more than 50% of all women over the age of 60 have one or more broken bones caused by osteoporosis.
But that doesn't mean osteoporosis is inevitable.
Tests can determine your chances for developing osteoporosis later in life. If your risk is high, therapy will be recommended.
The ideal is to start preventative therapy in time, before osteoporosis becomes a problem. By slowing or stopping the loss of bone mass, HT can prevent osteoporosis providing therapy is started in time.
Can Osteoporosis be prevented?
Yes, osteoporosis can be prevented. By eating a well-balanced diet, and staying active. And stopping smoking.
But for some women, this is not enough.
For those identified as being part of a high-risk group, Hormone Replacement Therapy and other bone building medications such as flendronate (Fosamax) can effectively prevent osteoporosis.
If Osteoporosis is diagnosed, treatments can increase bone thickness and reduce the chance of fractures.
Therapy must be continued for as long as your doctor recommends. If stopped too soon, women will begin to lose bone mass again.
How do I find out if I am at risk?
Special scanning equipment can measure bone density or thickness with a special low dose X-ray which takes pictures of different parts of the skeleton.
Or specialists can measure the rate of bone loss with the use of special tests taken from a urine or blood test.
One test may be enough, or several may be made over a period of time to check the rate of bone mineral loss.
When should Therapy begin?
For women found to be losing bone mass rapidly, it is important to begin therapy as soon as possible after the menopause.
It is never too late to start treatment. Women of all ages respond well to therapy.