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What is Postmenopausal Osteoporosis?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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Postmenopausal osteoporosis is a form of osteoporosis which occurs in women after menopause. The majority of osteoporosis cases seen by the medical community take the form of postmenopausal osteoporosis. This form of osteoporosis cannot be entirely prevented, but there are some steps which women can take to reduce the severity of bone loss after menopause, and to care for their bodies during and after menopause to reduce the risk of developing complications associated with bone loss, such as fractures.

Osteoporosis occurs when the rate of bone resorption exceeds the rate of bone formation. In other words, the body is breaking down bone as it normally does, but it is not producing new bone. As a result, the bones become more porous, and more fragile. Osteoporosis greatly increases the risk of fractures, and it is harder to heal after a fracture when one has osteoporosis, presenting a double threat for people with this condition.

People develop postmenopausal osteoporosis because estrogen rates decline after menopause. Low estrogen levels cause the rate of resorption to increase, potentially causing osteoporosis. As women grow older, they can lose a significant percentage of their bone mass to osteoporosis. Postmenopausal osteoporosis may be identified during routine medical care, or in the wake of a fracture which does not heal properly.

One way to reduce the risk of developing postmenopausal osteoporosis is to take calcium supplements throughout life, and to continue supplementing into menopause. It is important to consume dietary calcium in a way which maximizes absorption. A doctor can provide specific advice about the appropriate dosage and ways to consume it so that women can ensure that their bodies actually access the calcium they take in supplement form.

Weight bearing exercise and exercise in general are also useful. Staying active is an excellent way to preserve bone density, and many health centers offer classes specifically geared to seniors, for women who find that a little bit of exercise guidance is helpful. Hormone therapy can also be used to address postmenopausal osteoporosis, by supplementing hormone levels to address the changes which can contribute to bone loss.

Women who are concerned that they are at risk for postmenopausal osteoporosis can receive screening through a physician. The doctor can identify the amount of bone loss which has occurred, if any, and can provide suggestions to prevent further bone loss. Women may also want to discuss the risk of osteoporosis with their physicians before the onset of menopause, so that they can prepare.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By Mykol — On Jul 22, 2011

My mother and grandmother both had osteoporosis so I am trying to do everything I can to prevent osteoporosis in my body.

I am doing all the recommended things like taking extra calcium, getting exercise and had my first bone test done a year ago. At that time everything looked good, but because of my family history, I will have this checked more frequently than some.

I know that none of these things are a guarantee, but they can at least keep me tuned in to what is going on, and I feel better knowing I am doing everything I can to prevent this from happening to me.

I feel better when I exercise anyway, and there are a lot more benefits to this than just trying to prevent osteoporosis.

By SarahSon — On Jul 21, 2011

While taking calcium supplements and participating in weight bearing exercise is very important, it still does not mean you will not get osteoporosis.

Many times there are not any physical signs of osteoporosis, and you will only know through testing. That is one reason it is important to get tested before you even go through menopause.

This thinking is similar to getting a baseline mammogram at 40 years old, so you have something to compare to as you age and any changes can been seen and dealt with right away.

By andee — On Jul 20, 2011

My mother developed post menopausal osteoporosis even after taking calcium supplements for many years. This was discovered when she had a bone density test done several years after she had been through menopause.

There are several medications and more options available today than there were several years ago. My doctor recommends every female have a bone density test done starting at age 50. This way they can observe any changes and help you get early treatment if needed.

By B707 — On Jul 20, 2011

There are a number of methods for treatment of osteoporosis. It's good to start them even before menopause begins. I was a little late in starting some of them - but it's never too late.

I try to keep my pH level balanced. I now eat lots of fruits and vegetables, which are mostly alkaline and less acidic food, like meat, sugar,and processed foods. This keeps calcium in the bone.

Supplements are important - I take calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K and a vitamin/mineral supplement.

I try to do weight-bearing exercises two to three times a week for about 30 minutes. Stressing the bone and muscles add bone-building strength.

It's not easy, but reducing physical and emotional stress can put your body in a better situation to hold bone loss in check.

By Esther11 — On Jul 19, 2011

@Clairdelune - Thanks a lot for the information you posted. I also have osteoporosis. I take calcium everyday, but no one told me that it was necessary to take vitamin D to make it work. I'm going to call my doctor tomorrow.

I have been doing weight exercises about two times a week. I am due to have my yearly bone scan soon, and I hope it shows some improvement, or at least is staying the same.

Good luck! This is an awful condition.

By Clairdelune — On Jul 19, 2011

Soon after menopause, my doctor suggested that I have a bone scan to check for osteoporosis. Sure enough, my bone density was lower than it should be. I was told I should take calcium to try to build up my bones quicker than they were losing density.

In addition, you need to take adequate vitamin D supplements too, so that the calcium will be absorbed and made useful for bone building.

I asked myself why I got it. After reading some on the subject, I found that studies showed that it could be hereditary. After talking to relatives, I found that quite a few of the women had postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Having small bones is another factor. My relatives are all from north European ancestry, and they are generally small-boned.

By the way, it's not just a women's disease. Men are prone to getting osteoporosis after age 80.

By oscar23 — On Jul 18, 2011

I know that osteoporosis runs in my family pretty badly, and I would like to explore different methods to prevent it if I can.

I addressed this with my doctor and she told me that I needed to take a calcium supplement. I went out and got a bottle and commenced to taking it every evening before bed.

I was really proud of myself for taking a step to prevent something that can be really potentially bad.

Then I hear that taking a calcium supplement does you no good whatsoever if you aren’t taking the right kind of supplement. It has to be one that your body can readily absorb. Then I heard that combining calcium with Vitamin D will help your body absorb it.

I am so disgusted with this whole mess. Why in the world would pharmaceutical companies market a form of calcium that doesn’t help people in the first place? If you need to combine two supplements to make one work, why not just do it to begin with?

I’m not even sure if anything that I heard is true. I sure would appreciate it if someone could help me understand what I truly need to be doing for my future health.

By mabeT — On Jul 18, 2011

My grandmother developed postmenopausal osteoporosis. She didn’t know it though until she was walking down the road with one of her great grand’s, stepped down the wrong way and broke her foot.

She was diagnosed right after a bone density scan, and given an experimental medication that was supposed to harden her bones tremendously. Whether it worked or not is hard to say because it was pulled off of the market shortly thereafter.

Now, she takes some sort of a pill, but she has still broken her ribs, her back and other various small bones since.

This is a terrible disorder than can bring elderly women in particular a lot of pain and discomfort. I wish more could be done to help relieve the symptoms as well as the actual disorder.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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