Can Menopausal Symptoms Reveal Bone Health?

A new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism suggests that women with certain menopausal symptoms have lower bone density and higher fracture risk.

 

 

Menopause signals the life stage when all women face a greater risk of osteoporosis. During this time, the ovaries stop producing hormones, menstrual periods stop, and the body begins to break down old bone tissue faster than it can be replaced. Because this bone breakdown happens more rapidly in postmenopausal women, their bones become structurally weaker and more likely to break than the bones of younger women. However, bone health after menopause varies from woman to woman.

A study published this month (January 2015), in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, involved 23,573 participants from 40 clinical centers across the country. Participants were women between the ages of 50 and 79. The study tracked them for 8 years, on average. Women were asked about their menopausal symptoms during an initial visit, and then monitored for fractures during the follow-up period. It was the first large study to specifically study the relationship between menopausal symptoms and bone health.

An analysis of the data found a connection between the following menopausal symptoms and a higher risk of hip fracture during the follow-up period:

  • Moderate or severe hot flashes during menopause.
  • Night sweats during menopause.

Women with these menopausal symptoms also had lower bone mass density at the neck and spine during the 8-year follow-up period.

More research is needed to understand the connection between menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis risks. In the meantime, women who experience hot flashes and night sweats can help protect their bones by following the following healthy habits:

  • Avoid smoking.
  • Drink alcohol moderately or not at all.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Plan a diet that includes sufficient calcium and vitamin D.
  • Consult your physician about monitoring bone density.

Until we better understand the relationship between menopausal symptoms and bone health, following a bone-healthy lifestyle is a good way to practice preventative bone care.

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