Osteoclasts and Osteoblasts
Osteoporosis is a disease that thins and weakens the bones, making them more vulnerable to breaks and fractures. This degenerative bone condition affects all people to varying degrees - as the body ages, bone loss tends to outweigh bone growth as they cycle gets disrupted. Osteoporosis is one of the many symptoms of menopause, as decreased estrogen levels affect the cells' ability to build new bone.
What Is Menopause?
Menopause is a natural process in which a woman's body transitions from fertility to infertility. As this happens, levels of the hormone estrogen significantly decrease, and many symptoms can result. The most common and noticeable are hot flashes, vaginal dryness, irregular periods, and mood swings. This decrease in estrogen can contribute to osteoporosis. However, this is much harder to detect and can go undiagnosed for years.
Estrogen is a hormone that helps regulate the reproductive system, among many other functions in the body. Low estrogen levels can lead to a lower count of the osteoblasts, the cells that are responsible for building bones. When this occurs, more bone is lost and not enough is replaced, and a woman can develop osteoporosis.
What Are the Risks of Osteoporosis?
Menopause can exacerbate the thinning of the bones and increase a woman's risk of easily fracturing or breaking a bone. Such breaks and fractures at an older age can significantly reduce independence, overall health, and quality of life.
How to Manage Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is treatable; however, it is much easier to prevent the disease than manage it. To maintain bone density prior to and during menopause, women should heed the following advice.
Control calcium levels. This aspect is perhaps the easiest method of combating osteoporosis. Calcium, in addition to vitamin D and other nutrients, helps keep bones strong. Calcium-rich foods include milk, yogurt, cheese, salmon, and soy.
Exercise. Women should also exercise for at least 30 minutes, three times a week. Workouts that combine aerobics with strength training are the most effective at maintaining hormone levels and bone strength.
Maintenance of estrogen levels. Because bone cells are dependent on the levels of estrogen in the body, it can sometimes help to try estrogen-boosting treatments. Such treatments include phytoestrogenic herbs, as well as hormone-regulating supplements like Macafem.
Treatments like hormone replacement therapy have the ability to balance hormones and prevent bone thinning; however, they do pose some health risks, such as an increase risk of reproductive cancer and stroke. All treatments should be followed under the careful guidance of a medical professional.