Checking Bone Density During Menopause
One of the more serious side effects of menopause is the loss of bone density, known commonly as osteoporosis. This condition is serious because women with osteoporosis are more likely to experience unexpected bone fractures and breaks due to an overall weakening of their bones.
Because osteoporosis doesn’t often present itself through tangible or obvious symptoms, many women don’t realize they have it until they actually fracture a bone. In order to combat the onset of osteoporosis, it’s important to maintain healthy eating habits and to keep a watchful eye on bone density through regular doctors’ appointments during the menopause process.
The Effects of Menopause on Bone Density
According to WebMD, there is a direct link between osteoporosis and menopause. Periods of time in which hormone levels are low can cause the loss of bone mass. In addition, infrequent or absent monthly periods can lead to decreased bone mass as well.
Loss in estrogen makes it easier for cells called osteoclasts to absorb bone. As detailed on EndocrineWeb, when osteoclasts are absorbing bone, the cells which create bone, osteoblasts, cannot do their job as efficiently. When bone is being absorbed faster than it is being created, osteoporosis occurs as a result.
Common Signs of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is often called “the silent disease,” as it can be hard to detect until you experience a bone fracture or break. Severe back pain, loss of height, and spine deformities such as a hunched back are more serious symptoms of osteoporosis. Everyday Health notes that other symptoms of osteoporosis include high levels of serum calcium in blood tests, difficulty standing up, and bone and muscle aches.
It’s often difficult to catch osteoporosis until the symptoms become apparent. For this reason, women who are experiencing perimenopause and menopause should take preventive steps regardless of whether or not they experience any actual symptoms.
How to Monitor Your Bone Density
One of the best ways to ensure that your bone density remains at a healthy level throughout menopause is to get regular bone density tests. Tracking bone density over time will help you to better evaluate if and when you may require treatment.
How to Prevent Loss of Bone Density
As you approach perimenopause and menopause, your nutrient needs change. With decreased levels of estrogen, levels of vitamin K and vitamin D also decrease. With the onset of menopause, you should increase your intake of calcium-rich foods such as dark leafy greens. Opt for salads with kale, collards, and spinach instead of iceberg lettuce. If you feel that you aren’t getting enough calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K in your diet, consider taking a multivitamin.
Regular exercise also helps to maintain or increase bone and muscle mass. According to a publication from Women’s Health, women in post-menopause can maintain or even gain as much as 1.5% in bone mineral density with a proper strength-training regime.