The cessation of your child-bearing years is correlated with a significant risk in developing osteoporosis. Addressing these concerns as soon as possible may prevent fractures and physical disability.
Know Your Personal Risk
You should discuss your personal risk of developing osteoporosis with your doctor. The risk tends to be higher among women of European and Asian backgrounds. Additionally, other health conditions can affect your risk. For example, many autoimmune diseases disproportionately affect women, and many of these women may have received steroids throughout their disease to reduce inflammation. An unfortunate side effect of chronic inflammation that affects the musculoskeletal system and the steroids used to reduce this inflammation is the elevated risk of bone demineralization. These health conditions might sway your doctor to schedule a bone density scan earlier than normal.
Use Lifestyle Modifications
Your doctor will likely recommend changes you can make to your lifestyle that will make your bones stronger and can reduce your risk of falls and other injuries. Eating a nutritious diet that is rich in bone-strengthening nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and trace minerals can help. Although taking a multivitamin is important, using individual vitamins might be a better alternative. Sometimes your doctor might recommend a loading dose or higher dose of certain nutrients and you can avoid interactions that reduce the amount that is absorbed by taking separate supplements.
Exercise is critical for bone health. Both cardio and weight-bearing exercises can increase bone density. If you have any physical limitations, it is better to work with a personal trainer or physical therapist who can recommend exercises based on your needs. Exercise also has the benefit of improving balance, strength, and range of motion, which can decrease the risk of falls in women as they age.
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, your doctor will likely prescribe medication that increases bone density either by helping mineralize bone or reducing the rate at which bone is destroyed. Typically, these medications are once-weekly or monthly osteoporosis treatments. Sometimes they can cause stomach upset, so they may need to be taken with meals. In other instances, the medication must be taken on an empty stomach with plenty of water. Medication is not a substitute for making other lifestyle changes. Sometimes hormone treatments may help with osteoporosis, but they may be limited to women who need some benefit beyond bone health. Since hormone therapy may increase the risk of certain cancers and vascular disease, this approach is uncommonly used.
Some women naturally have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Bone density screenings and a healthier lifestyle are the first steps to preventing fractures.