Menopause is a natural biological process that all women experience in their 40s or 50s. It marks the end of your reproductive years, and your body undergoes many changes during this time.
One of those changes is a sharp decline in estrogen levels, which can lead to bone loss and osteoporosis. Bone loss is a serious concern for postmenopausal women, and about 1 in 2 women over 50 break a bone due to osteoporosis.
May is Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, and at OB-GYN Associates of Marietta, we want to do our part. Although menopause is inevitable, there’s a lot you can do to protect your bones from osteoporosis and fracture — and we can help.
Our team specializes in menopause and postmenopause care. Here’s how you can combat bone loss after menopause.
Get enough calcium
Calcium is essential for healthy bones, and making sure you get enough calcium helps prevent postmenopausal bone loss. We recommend 1,200 mg of calcium every day for women over 50.
You can get calcium from your diet; good sources include dairy products, leafy greens, tofu, and fortified foods like cereal and orange juice. If you can’t get enough calcium from your diet, we may recommend taking a calcium supplement.
Take vitamin D
Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium efficiently. Many postmenopausal women don’t get enough vitamin D, which can lead to calcium deficiency and bone loss. That’s why we recommend 800-1,000 IU of vitamin D daily for women over 50.
Good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified foods like milk and cereal. You can also get vitamin D from sun exposure, but be sure to wear sunscreen and avoid excessive sun exposure.
As with calcium, you can take a vitamin D supplement if you don’t get enough from your diet.
Engage in weight-bearing exercise
Along with getting essential nutrients, exercise is one of the best ways to fight bone loss. Weight-bearing exercises, like walking and weightlifting, stimulate your bones to retain calcium and help to prevent bone loss.
Aim to get at least 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise most days of the week. This can include a combination of aerobic activity, like walking, and strength training, like lifting light weights. If you’re not sure where to start, our team can recommend activities and exercises for you.
Quit smoking & limit alcohol
Smoking cigarettes threatens your health in a number of ways. It reduces bone density and increases your risk of fractures, particularly after menopause. If you smoke, quitting as soon as possible helps protect your bones and your overall health.
Drinking too much alcohol can also increase your risk of accelerated bone loss and fractures. Limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day (for women), and avoid binge drinking.
Consider hormone replacement therapy
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment option for menopausal women. It replaces the estrogen your body no longer produces, and it can help reduce many of the most bothersome menopause symptoms, such as mood swings and hot flashes.
Because HRT replaces estrogen, it can also help prevent bone loss. If you’re interested in HRT, talk to our team. We can go over the risks and benefits to help you decide if it’s a good option for you.
Get regular bone density tests
Bone density tests are noninvasive scans to monitor your bone health and detect bone loss early. These screenings are important for postmenopausal women, and we typically recommend getting bone density tests every two years.
If you have risk factors for osteoporosis, you may benefit from more frequent testing.
If you’re in menopause or beyond, taking care of your bones is essential. Get more tips to combat bone loss and find customized treatment to fit your needs at OB-GYN Associates of Marietta. Call our offices in Marietta and Woodstock, Georgia, to set up your first appointment.