After years of warnings from doctors, public health campaigns, and loved ones, women know to be on their guard when it comes to osteoporosis. Too many of us have seen the toll that osteoporosis can cause up close, and chances are that you’re motivated to do everything you can to age gracefully and stay healthy. But many women underestimate the impact of menopause on their risk of developing osteoporosis.
Estrogen is known to play a critical role in guarding against bone loss during your fertile years. But when your estrogen levels drop after menopause, you become more prone to developing osteoporosis. While there is no perfect formula to prevent osteoporosis after menopause, there are a number of steps you can take to keep your bones in good condition, including exercising, maintaining a healthy diet, and eliminating harmful habits like smoking. But, for women who suspect that they may be at high risk of developing osteoporosis, using these strategies may not be enough. You need a plan that will help you counter the natural absence of estrogen in your body so that you can keep your bones in good shape. For many, this plan includes compensating for lost estrogen with hormone replacement therapy, adding back the hormones that fortify bone health.
Exercise Is a Natural Way to Prevent Osteoporosis After Menopause
Performing regular exercise is often a cornerstone of osteoporosis prevention for post-menopausal women because it prompts your bones to become denser. By exercising, you’re sending your body a signal that you’re going to need your bones to be strong in the future. In turn, your body will respond by telling your bones to retain their density and not atrophy from underuse. Weight training tends to provide more benefits for bone health than aerobic training, but don’t worry—most kinds of exercise help, and any exercise is better than none. Even regular walking has been shown to be protective against developing osteoporosis.
However, there are a few reasons exercise may not be enough to protect you from developing osteoporosis. While exercise is beneficial during all phases of life, exercise doesn’t contribute as much to the density of your bones when you are older in comparison to its potential contribution during your younger years. Furthermore, if you have mobility challenges or other health problems that prevent you from exercising regularly, you may need to find an alternative to help prevent osteoporosis.
Nutrition Can Give Your Bones the Tools They Need to Stay Strong
When you’ve entered menopause, your body needs ample quantities of vitamin K, vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium to keep your bones in good condition. If you are deficient in the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to maintain your bones, you might be more likely to develop osteoporosis during or after menopause.
While your bones need a number of minerals to perform at peak condition, calcium tends to be the mineral in which postmenopausal women find themselves deficient. Your bone cells require large amounts of calcium because it is a fundamental component of the proteins that give them structure. When they don’t have enough calcium, your bone cells can’t maintain their structure as effectively, and osteoporosis occurs. Some women turn to calcium supplements to ensure that their bones have enough calcium, but getting it from dietary sources like leafy greens is preferable, as your body absorbs the calcium from these sources more efficiently.
The downside of nutrition as a preventative method is that it probably isn’t enough to prevent osteoporosis on its own. While having a deficiency of key minerals may cause osteoporosis to develop more rapidly, a good diet probably can’t make up for being sedentary or having detrimental lifestyle habits like smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol.
Preventing Osteoporosis Is Easier When You Stop Smoking Cigarettes
Smoking cigarettes is highly detrimental to the bone density of postmenopausal women. Research suggests that women who smoke after menopause are up to twice as likely to develop osteoporosis as women who don’t. The reason behind this detrimental impact isn’t entirely clear. Nonetheless, if you’re a smoker, you should consider quitting for the sake of your bones as well as your general health.
Of course, quitting smoking can be difficult. Talk to your practitioner about supports available to help you quit—today, there are more options than ever before and you can select the best methods for your individual situation. You may also want to consider alternatives for preventing osteoporosis while you’re working on quitting.
Bioidentical Estrogen May Help Prevent Osteoporosis After Menopause
For many women, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising frequently, and refraining from smoking simply aren’t enough to make up for their body’s lack of estrogen after menopause when it comes to preventing osteoporosis. The good news is that it may be possible to give your bones the estrogen that they need to stay dense even if your body doesn’t produce enough estrogen on its own anymore.
Researchers have found that taking additional estrogen may be effective at preventing bone loss in postmenopausal women. This means that if a healthy lifestyle isn’t sufficient to stop your bones from losing their density, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy may give you the additional support you need to stave off osteoporosis.
Bioidentical hormones are chemically and structurally identical to the hormones your body produces. When you undergo bioidentical hormone replacement therapy after menopause, your bones—and the rest of your body—will react in the same way that they would to your own natural estrogen. As a result, you may be able to prevent or slow bone loss before you experience the debilitating loss of bone density and mobility problems associated with osteoporosis. While bioidentical hormone replacement therapy shouldn’t be the only part of your osteoporosis prevention strategy, many women find that it helps them feel better and stay healthy.
If you need help formulating your osteoporosis prevention or treatment plan, there are excellent practitioners who will give you the support necessary to keep you as healthy as possible. When you work with a bioidentical hormone replacement therapy practitioner, they’ll help you develop a personalized diet, exercise, and hormone replacement therapy regimen to ensure you optimize bone health and address any other menopause symptoms you may have. When you get the support you need, you’ll know that you’re doing the best that you can for your bones and your overall quality of life.
BodyLogicMD can help you get started with preventing osteoporosis after menopause with expert care from a highly-trained practitioner who specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and integrative medicine. The practitioners within the BodyLogicMD network are among the top medical professionals in the nation and specially certified to help you address hormonal causes of osteoporosis after menopause so that you can experience the life you deserve. Get started on a customized treatment plan designed to fit your lifestyle and help you reach optimal wellness — contact a local practitioner to schedule your first appointment or take the BodyLogicMD Hormone Balance Quiz today.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.
Charlotte is a patient care coordinator specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She is committed to helping patients who struggle with the symptoms of hormonal change and imbalance explore their treatment options and develop effective strategies to optimize wellness.