1 in 3 women over the age of 50 will experience osteoporotic bone fractures.1

Find out how one woman’s healthy lifestyle and positive mindset helped her keep osteoporosis under control.

Read her story here

What is Postmenopausal Osteoporosis?

Bones are living tissue that change and grow. Over the years, your body breaks down old bone and replaces it with new bone tissue. As you age, this process slows down. Especially for women in their 50s and 60s, the ability to rebuild new bone gradually slows down, which leads to an increase in bone loss. This is when postmenopausal osteoporosis, a truly debilitating disease, can set in.

How does postmenopausal osteoporosis happen?2-5

Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life that typically happens around the age of 50-52 years of age. It is a time when your periods stop permanently—which means no bleeding or spotting for 12 months in a row—and you can no longer get pregnant.2

Oestrogen is a female hormone, which plays an important role in maintaining bone strength and protecting your bones. Low oestrogen levels lead to increased bone loss and a higher chance of breaks.

Post-menopause, your ovaries make very low levels of oestrogen and progesterone, both female hormones. These low hormone levels can lead to certain health issues, such as:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart disease
  • Strokes
  • Urinary incontinence

Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that weakens your bones to the point they can break easily. Often referred to as ‘the silent disease’, osteoporosis is usually first diagnosed only after a sudden fall or impact which causes a bone to break. The breaks typically happen around the hips, spine, and wrists.

Are you at risk?

Although osteoporosis can affect younger women and even men, it is more common for postmenopausal women to suffer from this condition.

There are certain risk factors that may make you more susceptible to developing osteoporosis.
While some risk factors of developing osteoporosis cannot be controlled, certain lifestyle choices may impact your chance of developing the disease.

These risk factors include:5,7

1. A small and thin frame

People with smaller, lighter and thinner bones are more prone to osteoporosis

2. Family history with osteoporosis

Studies show that if your parents have osteoporosis, you have a greater chance of developing it

3. Being older

Bones naturally lose some density and become weaker as you age. Not every older person gets osteoporosis, but chances of developing the disease increases with age

4. Ethnicity

Asian women tend to be at higher risk of developing osteoporosis as they are usually thinner and smaller than other women, which means they have less bone density

5. Menopause

Menopause is marked by a steep drop in oestrogen, which results in lesser bone density and more prone to fractures

6. Smoking

If you smoke, your chances of developing osteoporosis increase, because smoking may inhibit proper Calcium absorption

7. Lack of exercise

Exercise strengthens your bones. Women of all ages are encouraged to engage in regular weight-bearing physical activities such as walking, dancing or hiking

8. Lack of Calcium and Vitamin D

Insufficient amounts of Calcium can contribute towards the development of osteoporosis. It’s also important to have adequate amounts of Vitamin D, which helps your body to absorb Calcium

9. Excessive alcohol consumption

Heavy alcohol consumption inhibits normal bone formation by impacting your body's Calcium supply. If you consume alcohol, drink in moderation and not more than one alcoholic drink a day

10. Long-term medication

Certain medication for health conditions such as arthritis, asthma, lupus, or thyroid disease may increase your chances of developing postmenopausal osteoporosis. You should consult your doctor to understand if your current medication could put you at risk of developing osteoporosis

11. An eating disorder

Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia can weaken your bones

Did you know:

The average woman loses up to 10% of her bone mass in the first 5 years after menopause.6

It’s always good to speak with your doctor about the possibility and risk of developing osteoporosis. If you are planning to visit your doctor, you may want to complete the Osteoporosis Symptom Checker, and use your results as a point of discussion.

How important are regular check-ups?

All women are encouraged to go for check-ups and screening tests on a regular basis. This is especially important once menopause sets in. Make sure you get:

1
Regular mammograms after 50 until you are around 75 years.
2
Regular pap smear tests even after menopause.
3
Regular height measurements to see if there is any height loss due to bone degeneration.
4
Blood, urine, and other tests to check for diabetes and heart disease.
5
Blood pressure, cholesterol, and any other tests your doctor recommends.
  1. International Osteoporosis Foundation. Facts and Statistics.Available at: https://www.iofbonehealth.org/facts-statistics. Accessed: April 2020.
  2. Gold EB. The timing of the age at which natural menopause occurs Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2011;38(3):425-440. doi:10.1016/j.ogc.2011.05.002.
  3. Cleveland Clinic. Menopause, perimenopause and post menopause. Last reviewed December 2019. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15224-menopause-perimenopause-and-postmenopause#:~:text=Postmenopause%3A%20This%20is%20the%20name,may%20ease%20for%20many%20women. Accessed: April 2020.
  4. Hormone Health Network. Post Menopause and Osteoporosis | Endocrine Society. Hormone.org, Endocrine Society, 8 July 2020. Available at: https://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/menopause/post-menopause-and-osteoporosis. Accessed: April 2020.
  5. Office on Women’s Health. Osteoporosis. Available at: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/osteoporosis. Accessed: April 2020.
  6. Australian Menopause Society. Information Sheet on Osteoporosis. Available at: https://www.menopause.org.au/images/infosheets/AMS_Osteoporosis_2014.pdf Accessed: April 2020.
  7. MenopauseNow 9 Common Causes of Osteoporosis in Women. Available at: https://www.menopausenow.com/osteoporosis/articles/9-common-causes-of-osteoporosis-in-postmenopausal-women. Accessed: April 2020.