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Why are women more prone to osteoporosis during menopause? The answer lies right here!

Published on:18 October 2021, 14:55pm IST
Osteoporosis is becoming increasingly common today. But why is it more prevalent among women, more so during menopause? Let’s find out!
Dr Gaurav Rathore
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osteoporosis
steoporosis is more commonly seen in women during the menopausal stage. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Osteoporosis is a condition that causes a progressive decrease in bone mass and tissue, making the bones fragile. With a loss in bone mass and strength, bones fracture easily and take long to heal. In extreme cases, they may not even heal. The condition has negligible external signs and is often diagnosed when there is a fracture primarily in areas like the hip, spine, and wrist. Both men and women can suffer from osteoporosis, but it is four times more common in women than in men. Women above 50 years of age and who may have hit menopause, more often than not, have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

Women are typically smaller in size than men, and their bone structure tends to be less dense, smaller, and less brittle than men’s bones. In reality, the word osteoporosis means porous bones. When osteoporosis is a growing issue, it causes your bones to lose mass and strength — they are literally lighter and more fragile. Most sufferers don’t realize it until they break their bones. Women are at a higher risk of fractured bones because the occurrence of osteoporosis is higher than the chance of heart attacks or stroke and breast cancer in combination.

osteoporosis
Beware of falls and fractures! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Two factors are crucial and influence your risk of getting osteoporosis:
  • How much bone mass are you carrying, when you enter menopause? If you have a greater bone density, you are less likely to develop cancer.
  • How fast does the bone density decrease, following menopausal changes? If it’s fast, it increases your risk of developing cancer.
Why is osteoporosis more prominent in women than men

Here are some reasons that women are more prone to osteoporosis than males:

Estrogen’s role: Estrogen or estrogen is a critical hormone in women that plays vital functions in maintaining bone density. It is also found in males but in lesser quantities and aids the bones during the process of growing and maturation. Following menopausal transition (around 45 to 55 years), estrogen levels for women decrease drastically. The rapid decline in estrogen causes bone mass to fall quickly. A bone could lose about 25 percent of its mass in 10 years after menopause, which makes it more prone to fractures, because of osteoporosis.

Age: Bones start to develop in the early years of life, and achieve maximum bone mass when you are 18-20 years old. Women have shorter frames, smaller and weaker bones than males. Many of the smaller bone masses can be due to inadequate nutrition in the adolescent years. As women get older, their bones tend to weaken, making them more susceptible to osteoporosis.

A low muscle mass weight that is less than 57 kilograms or even having a slim frame can increase the severity of osteoporosis. Many women have less muscle mass than men. They can also begin to become frail in the early years. This can increase their chances of suffering osteoporosis-related fractures.

osteoporosis
Calcium can help you strengthen your bones. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
Why is calcium important to prevent osteoporosis?

Doctors recommend consuming adequate calcium during the adolescent years, as it is during this time that bones are formed. But, an adequate calcium-rich diet at any age will help keep bone health in good condition.

The recommended daily intake of calcium is in accordance with the age of the person.

  • 9-18 years: 1300 mg
  • 19-50 years: 1,000 mg
  • 51 and older: 1,200 mg

Dairy and milk products as well as entire grains, soybeans, and cereals (especially ragi), chicken, eggs, and fish are among the most readily available sources of calcium. When combined with adequate vitamin D intake, which assists the body to absorb calcium, bones stay robust and prevent the appearance of osteoporosis. Physical exercise is known to build bone strength and reduce the chance of fracture.

Also Read: Dear women, you need to eat more calcium before you turn 30. Here’s why

A bone mineral density measurement, also known as DEXA (Dual-Energy Absorptiometry X-rays) is a test that detects a decrease in bone mass. Women who are over 50 must consult their physician about the DEXA test to assess the likelihood of developing osteoporosis-related fractures.

Why is vitamin D important to prevent osteoporosis?

Vitamin D is essential, as it permits your body to better absorb calcium. The body makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. It’s also found in some food items like fatty fish. There are many variables that determine how long you must be exposed to the sun, in order to get enough vitamin D. But experts recommend spending about 10 minutes each day, while you have your arms, hands, and face open.

Dr Gaurav Rathore Dr Gaurav Rathore

Dr Gaurav Rathore, Director, Department of Orthopaedics and Joint Replacement, Jaypee Hospital (Noida)