Bone health in postmenopausal women can be improved with menopausal hormone therapy. Study first author Georgios Papadakis explained, “When used in the right context, specifically in postmenopausal women younger than 60 years old for whom the benefits outweigh risks, menopausal hormonal therapy is effective for both the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.”
Osteoporosis is a progressive bone disease affecting women more than men. Estrogen offers protective benefits to women, but as the levels begin to drop in menopause, those protective benefits are no longer available, resulting in the loss in bone mineral density and an increased risk of developing osteoporosis.
The cross-sectional study looked at 1,279 women over the age of 50. Twenty-two percent of them underwent menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), 30 percent were past users, and 48 percent of the women never used MHT.
Based on their bone scan results, the women were assigned a Trabecular Bone Score, which assesses underlying bone quality and can predict bone fracture risk.
Both age and body mass index were contributing factors to bone health, with other variables being calcium, vitamin D, and history of fractures.
The researchers found a higher Trabecular Bone Score in current MHT users, compared to past users or those who never used MHT. Bone mass density was also higher in current users. Duration of MHT was not a factor in bone health.
Papadakis concluded, “Women at menopause should take note of this study, because its results can help optimize the use of menopausal hormone treatment in women at risk of osteoporosis.”
Menopause and bones
Osteoporosis is most commonly seen in women over the age of 50. This very much coincides with the time women enter or are finishing menopause. The link between menopause and osteoporosis is quite simple – as mentioned, it all comes down to estrogen.
Aside from a drop in estrogen, there are other factors that play a role in a woman’s risk of developing osteoporosis. For starters, the amount of bone a woman has by the time she reaches menopause plays a role, along with the rate of bone loss that occurs after menopause – for some women, this can be a slow process, while others lose bone quickly.
For some women, it is beneficial to undergo hormone replacement therapy, which not only aids in menopause symptoms but can also offer greater protection against bone loss resulting from the declining levels of estrogen.
Even though you may think being a woman automatically signs you up to develop osteoporosis, this is not always the case. There are strategies to help lower your risk of osteoporosis, which include eating a calcium-rich diet, getting in adequate vitamin D, exercising regularly, minimizing your caffeine and alcohol intake, and not smoking.
Related: How long does menopause last?