7 Tips to Prevent Osteoporosis After Menopause

Last updated 12.11.2023 | by Sabrina Johnson | 10 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.


Osteoporosis is a big term. If we were to explain it simply, it’s the condition that makes your bones weak and fragile, accounting for all the aches, pains, and inflammation. So, is it a man’s condition or a woman’s? Well, anybody can be affected by this condition. However, females are more susceptible to this condition than their male counterparts. 

If we were to go by the data, it says that almost half the women aged 50 and above may develop osteoporosis. Another interesting fact is that approximately 80% of Americans who have developed this condition are females.

When your body functions correctly, the old bone tissues wear down, making way for new tissues. Now, in osteoporosis, the equation changes. The old tissues break quickly but aren’t replaced by new bones instantly. This leads to thin bones, which are easily susceptible to fractures. My mother always complained of aches and pains when she was in her mid-40s. Interestingly, my sister was unaware she had osteoporosis until she suffered a leg fracture. A doctor once told me that many people are unaware they have osteoporosis until their bones break.

It is so common a condition that one in five women aged 50 and above are affected with the same. Are you in your late 40s or early 50s? Are weak and brittle bones troubling you to the core? Would you want to know the reasons for this and the ways to manage your bone health? This article of mine will be your help. I have included facts like why osteoporosis happens in menopause, the symptoms, and management procedures. Read on to know more.

Why Does Osteoporosis Occur in Menopause?

It’s no hidden fact that the majority of the symptoms women encounter in their 40s and 50s while they are transitioning into menopause or have already entered menopause are because of fluctuating hormone levels, estrogen in particular.

Estrogen isn’t just a reproductive hormone but controls other body functions, including our brain, skeletal system, cardiovascular system, etc[1].

Now comes the connection between estrogen and our bones[2]. It is essential to mention that estrogen is functional in helping the bones to grow and mature. In the menopause transition phase, the estrogen levels are on a decline. Their numbers dip drastically in menopause. That’s when bone health is impacted massively. Low estrogen levels make the bones break faster but rebuild slowly, resulting in immense bone loss.

Most women will begin experiencing changes in their bone health as they enter the menopause transition phase, which occurs from 40-44 years. The mean age for menopause is 45-55 years, with 51 being the average age in the United States. Women going through menopause prematurely (before 40) or early (before 45) will be susceptible to bone loss much earlier. So, I guess now we have the connection between menopause and osteoporosis and have also understood why women suffer from this more than men.

What Are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?

The symptoms of osteoporosis are a little tricky. As mentioned above, in most cases, you will only know that you have this condition once your bone is broken. Some noticeable symptoms that indicate the onset of osteoporosis include :

  • Fracture by fragile bones; even a mild impact can cause the bones of your back, hip, wrist, and other areas to break
  • There is a loss in height, over 2 inches at a time
  • Receding gums, especially if the jaw loses bones
  • Bent or stooping spine due to weak vertebrae
  • Low back pain; osteoporosis doesn’t affect your back, but the spine weakens to the extent that it loses the ability to tolerate stress

Luckily, I wasn’t too prone to bone conditions barring some aches and pains now and then. But I have seen people suffer from close, My sister’s bones were so weak that she would find it troublesome to go a couple of steps up the stairs. 

Who is At Risk of Osteoporosis?

Women are at more risk of osteoporosis than their male counterparts. Postmenopausal women are the ones who are more susceptible due to their low estrogen levels. To be more specific, ethnicity plays a significant role in osteoporosis. Women of Asian and Caucasian descent are more prone to this condition. The main reason speculated is their low bone mass, thin stature, and less calcium intake.

7 Effective Tips to Prevent and Manage Osteoporosis After Menopause

Effective Tips to Prevent and Manage Osteoporosis After Menopause

More than the reason, the ways to manage osteoporosis and get relief are more important to you. When you better your lifestyle and follow a regular workout schedule, things will eventually fall into place to a greater extent.

1. Exercise Regularly

Maintaining a proper exercise schedule will not just help in keeping your bone health after menopause but will also boost your overall health. Spending at least 30-40 minutes 4-5 days a week will strengthen your muscles and bones. You will even be at a lessened risk of fractures and falls. When you plan to workout to better your bone health, keep the following exercises on your list. They include:

  • Weight-bearing exercises such as running, dancing, walking, climbing stairs, and skipping should be on your priority list. On days when I couldn’t go out on a walk or missed my dance classes, I would go up and down the stairs at least thrice. That’s a great cardio and helps in strengthening your muscles.
  • Strength-training exercises like squats, dumbbells, push-ups, etc., will help keep your back muscles strong. My physical trainer advised me to start with 20 squats a day. When I could do that comfortably, he increased the counts to 50 and eventually 100. I wouldn’t do 100 squats in a go, but divided it into two halves.
  • Flexibility exercises involve stretches, which should be done slowly without much bouncing[4]. However, never do stretches that need you to flex your spine or bend your waist. You may end up causing self-injury.
  • Research has highlighted the benefits of yoga in minimizing the risk of osteoporosis. Practicing yoga regularly helped improve coordination and balance and increased bone density. Some of the yoga poses that yielded great results included tree pose, bridge pose, locust pose, etc. Yoga helped me immensely maintain bone health and manage other menopausal symptoms, hot flashes, and digestive issues.

However, consulting a healthcare provider before trying any pose is essential. If you already have a fractured bone, refrain from exercise. You may end up putting extra pressure on it.

2. Follow a Healthy Diet

Diet plays a significant role in not just building and strengthening bones. It is instrumental in boosting one’s overall health, mainly in menopause, when the hormones trigger many physical symptoms. Several nutrients, like Vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and protein, are instrumental in promoting bone health.

So you must include dairy products in your diet alongside green leafy vegetables like kale, collard greens, spinach, beet greens, etc. It would help if you also had fish, Brazil nuts, tofu, almonds, edible bones, oranges, figs, etc., to boost your nutrient intake. Your health will improve when you have a balanced and nutritious diet. I got benefits, too, from switching to a balanced diet of fruit, veggies, and healthy fats.

3. Quit Smoking

Smoking isn’t a healthy habit, and it is even worse in menopause, as it intensifies symptoms like hot flashes and sleep disorders. Did you know that smoking has an impact on bone health also? Studies show that smoking lessens the supply of blood to the bones. It even decreases calcium absorption, which is bad for bone health[5]. So, when you are nearing menopause or have already hit the menopause phase, you must eliminate smoking to maintain sound health.

4. Limit Your Alcohol Intake

Increased alcohol consumption over a long time lessens bone density and intensifies the risk of fractures. Alcohol can even make other symptoms of menopause worse, like hot flashes, depression, sleep problems, and so on. So, it’s better to reduce your alcohol intake to no more than a drink a day as you near menopause[6].

5. Lessen Caffeine Intake

Like alcohol, excess caffeine consumption isn’t a healthy option during the menopause transition and menopause phase. Caffeine is said to have an impact on bone health as it disrupts calcium metabolism and also alters the responses of Vitamin D. Caffeine also worsens other menopause symptoms. So, replacing caffeine with healthier options like herbal or fruit teas would be better. I have always mentioned my effort to reduce caffeine from four cups of coffee daily to a single cup. Some days, I would even miss that one cup as well. True that I had to do away with my favorite drink, but it benefitted me healthwise.

6. HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy)

Hormone replacement therapy effectively reduces hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and even bone loss. There are several courses of hormone replacement therapy that depend on how you have had your menopause.

While some women go through early menopause or premature menopause, a few may even experience surgical menopause. So, depending on your health condition, the doctor will advise for the HRT course apt for you. Hormone therapy has side effects, so before going for it, discuss the boons and banes well with the doctor.

7. Seek Medical Help

If you do not wish to opt for hormone therapies, and your bone loss problem isn’t improving even after trying lifestyle management techniques, you should talk to the doctor.

He may put you on medicine therapy. Bisphosphonates are a group of medicines effective in preventing bone density loss, thus helping treat and prevent osteoporosis after postmenopause.

Moreover, for women who are on glucocorticoids, which help in treating autoimmune diseases, hormone therapy alone won’t work to manage bone loss. The combined action of bisphosphonates is needed. There are alternatives to bisphosphonates, like calcitonin salmon and raloxifene. Some injectable medications like zoledronic acid also treat weak, brittle bones in postmenopausal women. However, never go for self-medication; always consult your doctor, who will help you decide the best option for you.

FAQs

Q. How is osteoporosis diagnosed?

Most women will know they have osteoporosis once they have broken their bones. A bone mineral density test is needed for an accurate diagnosis, primarily for women over 65 years, those with several risk factors, and menopausal women with fractures.

Q. How much daily calcium intake does a woman need?

The daily calcium intake a woman needs depends on her age. Here is an estimation:
0 to 6 months – 200 mg 
7 to 12 months – 260 mg 
1 to 3 years – 700 mg 
4 to 8 years – 1000 mg 
9 to 13 years – 1300 mg 
14 to 18 years – 1300 mg 
19 to 50 years – 1000 mg 
51 to 70 years – 1200 mg 
Over 70 years – 1200 mg

Q. Is it possible to reverse osteoporosis after menopause?

Osteoporosis after menopause will happen due to low estrogen levels. You cannot reverse the reasons, as reduced estrogen in your body will likely weaken your bones. But, by eating healthy and exercising well, you can work towards strengthening your bones and preventing further loss.

Q. Who is at a greater risk of osteoporosis? 

As mentioned already, women are at more risk of osteoporosis than their male counterparts. Postmenopausal women are the ones who are more susceptible due to their low estrogen levels. To be more specific, ethnicity plays a significant role in osteoporosis. Women of Asian and Caucasian descent are more prone to this condition. The main reason speculated is their low bone mass, thin stature, and less calcium intake.

Conclusion

So, to sum up, you should always be vigilant when it comes to your bones. When you eat the proper diet to nourish your bones and even exercise regularly to keep them strong, there are fewer chances of bone fractures and loss. Moreover, if your family has had a history of osteoporosis, you will be more susceptible to this condition. So, you have to be extra cautious. Eating healthy and exercising regularly has always been my motto to stay fit.

Author

  • Sabrina Johnson

    Meet Sabrina Johnson, a compassionate author and a seasoned expert in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a driving force behind Simply Menopause, where her extensive medical knowledge and empathetic nature come together to empower women in their menopausal journey. Sabrina offers culturally sensitive guidance and support through her approachable writing, making her a trusted friend on the path to menopause wellness.