Why does menopause affect bone health?

In menopause, low estrogen can lead to the development of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones and can lead to pain or fractures. After menopause, bone breakdown occurs more quickly than the building of new bone. A simple x-ray called a bone mineral density test can measure bone density and help you and your doctor decide if treatment is needed.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Bone may seem like little more than scaffolding for flesh, but that's far from true. Bone is a fascinating substance that interacts in complex ways with other compounds and chemicals in the body. One change that a woman's body undergoes during menopause--the dramatic drop in production of the hormone estrogen--has an unfortunate impact on bone. Estrogen helps the body maintain a balance between compounds that promote bone growth and others that break down bone.

In the first few years after menopause, women lose bone mass quickly. If a woman loses enough mass, her bones may become brittle and fracture easily. If you're a woman approaching or past menopause, talk with your doctor soon about steps you can take to protect your bones.

Menopause increases the risk of osteoporosis because the ovaries stop producing estrogen. This female hormone protects against bone loss. At this point in your life, bone loss is faster than bone formation, so bones tend to weaken and become more brittle. It is important to be aware of these changes to bone structure so you can improve bone health. Added calcium can help strengthen bones, so the chance of fracture is lessened.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Estrogen loss. When you hit menopause, your ovaries reduce the production of a hormone, called estrogen. Estrogen has its hand in a huge range of bodily functions (not those ones), including bone health. In young, healthy women, if all is well on the bone front, bone is remodeled daily. This means that bone is built more than it’s broken down, which makes sense since that’s when you do most of your growing (vertically, that is). But somewhere in your 30s, bone resorption (breakdown) begins, exceeding bone buildup.

Now let’s add estrogen into the mix: Before menopause, estrogen preserves bone density by protecting the cells in charge of building up bones. Without estrogen as your bone bodyguard, you end up losing bone. Estrogen’s disappearing act during menopause exacerbates already weakened bones.

Continue Learning about Aging, Bone & Joint Conditions

What can be done to prevent further bone loss in senior adults?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
Bone loss can be slowed by regular activity, dietary supplements and some new medications. All of th...
More Answers
At what age do we begin to lose bone mass?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
You may be losing bone mass sooner than you think. According to the National Institutes of Health (N...
More Answers
Does Osteoarthritis Occur Automatically as We Age?
Does Osteoarthritis Occur Automatically as We Age?
Is Your Back Pain Osteoarthritis?
Is Your Back Pain Osteoarthritis?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.