Managing Risks: Osteoporosis, Menopause & HRT

qaQ: Im approaching menopause and Im worried about taking hormones and my risk for osteoporosis. What should I do?

The loss of estrogen that accompanies menopause causes rapid acceleration of aging. Thin, wrinkled and sagging skin. Vaginal dryness. Allergies. Occasional or regular incontinence. Painful sex. More vaginal and urinary tract infections. Risk of heart disease, stroke and other illnesses increase. Many women will also begin to experience bone loss another major health risk.

Estrogen prevents the body from losing bone, while testosterone actually builds bone. Women who go through menopause and no longer have good levels of these hormones will experience dramatic bone loss the first several years. Osteopenia, or low bone mass, is the precursor to osteoporosis (severe bone loss). This is often a silent disease, so we have to screen for it and monitor it or we wont catch it until a patient gets a fracture.

In the United States, 10 million people have osteoporosis, and 90 percent of them are women. Among White American women, who are at a higher risk, 37 to 50 percent will have low bone mass or osteopenia, and 13 to 18 percent will suffer from osteoporosis. Its estimated that osteoporosis-related fractures impact around 25 million people each year and cost $16.9 billion annually, so its critical to maintain bone strength.

For instance, after breaking a hip, the likelihood of death within the next year goes up 20 percent, and that patient will also be 25 percent more likely to need long-term care.  Fifty percent never regain functionality, and many end up in nursing homes. If a patient cant afford nursing care, family members will end up with the caregivers job.

The best thing you can do to keep your bones healthy is Mother Natures therapy: estrogen and testosterone. Estrogen prevents bone from breaking down and testosterone helps build bone. If a woman starts taking estrogen before completing menopause, she most likely wont have bone problems. To sum it all up: without HRT, youre setting yourself up for not feeling well and possibly having brittle bones, as well as raising your risk for developing a host of chronic illnesses.

Make an appointment for your risk evaluation – call 480.619.4097

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