How to manage bone health during menopause

A woman’s body reaches its peak bone mass between the ages of 25 and 30. This means that her skeleton stops growing and is at its thickest and strongest during this time. Now, if a woman’s peak bone health is less than ideal, she is more likely to develop bone complications in later years, says Dr Yash Gulati, Principal Consultant, Orthopedics and Joint Replacement, Indraprashtha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi.

Menopause is a universal phenomenon experienced by middle-aged women everywhere, except that the associated symptoms vary from person to person. While some may feel relieved and happy that they don’t have to go through menstrual pain and the extra care required each month, for others menopause can bring hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings and hormonal imbalances.

In some cases, menopause affects women’s bone and heart health. Data collected by the International Osteoporosis Foundation shows that one in three women over the age of 60 will experience at least one fracture caused by osteoporosis. During perimenopause, a woman’s body begins to react differently to its surroundings. They become more vulnerable and the chances of contracting diseases such as arthritis, joint pain and osteoporosis increase manifold in the postmenopausal phase. The reason is the reduced level of estrogen production after menopause. A hormone produced by a woman’s ovaries plays a key role in determining the health of her bones.

A woman’s body reaches its peak bone mass between the ages of 25 and 30. This means that her skeleton stops growing and is at its thickest and strongest during this time. Now, if a woman’s peak bone health is less than what is considered ideal, she is more likely to develop bone weakness—osteopenia or osteoporosis—and related complications in later years.

Research shows that up to 20% of bone loss can occur during these stages and around 1 in 10 women over the age of 60 worldwide are affected by osteoporosis.

Bones become brittle and weak, increasing the risk of fractures, bone and muscle pain. While menopausal arthritis can be caused by genetically inherited abnormal genes that react to the metabolism of estrogen present in the body, decreased bone density can also cause joint pain that can affect the knees, shoulders, neck, elbows and other joints in the body. .

After menopause, the chance of primary osteoporosis is very high. This basically means reduced density and increased cavity in the bone. Osteoporosis causes increased bone fragility and can lead to fractures with little or no injury, called “fragility fragments.” This is common in the hip, wrist and spine.

Menopausal osteoporosis and associated muscle wasting (sarcopenia) can have adverse effects on the affected person’s daily life, causing hindrances in basic movements, constant body pain and susceptibility to injury.

Perimenopausal osteoporosis should be diagnosed and treated early to avoid complications. Simple, specific, inexpensive medications are available to manage the condition. Since the bones also begin to lose minerals and vitamins, it is recommended to maintain a sufficient daily intake of them. The daily diet should contain at least 1300 mg of calcium. This can be achieved by consuming a variety of dairy products, soy, almonds, tofu, green leafy vegetables and meat. In conjunction with calcium intake and the body’s ability to absorb, maintaining good levels of vitamin D helps achieve good bone health. The easiest way to do this is through daily exposure to the early morning sun and dietary supplements.

Engage in some physical activity that involves weight bearing. Regular resistance training is the most effective way to build strong bones and muscles.

Some of the habits to avoid the risk of bone disease are reducing alcohol intake, avoiding smoking and limiting excessive caffeine intake. These are some of the everyday lifestyle changes women can make to achieve a less problematic menopausal lifestyle.

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