The International Menopause Society (IMS) has published a new report for World Menopause Day which shows that one of the most important emerging health issues for midlife women is bone health. The charity has also produced new information resources.
The ‘Update on bone health’ report, carried out by world-leading experts in the field of menopausal health, highlights the growing issue of poor bone health in menopausal and post-menopausal women. Particular issues identified in the report are osteoporosis, sarcopenia and osteosarcopenia. These conditions are especially prevalent in women.
Most women will go through the menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. After their last menstrual period, their ovaries stop the production of the hormone oestrogen which leads to decreased bone strength. Osteoporosis develops slowly and is diagnosed when bone health deteriorates to such an extent that small impacts are likely to cause them to fracture. Worldwide, 1 in 3 women over age 50 will experience osteoporosis fractures.
The IMS advises women to maintain healthy bones by increasing their dietary intake of calcium, vitamin D and protein, using exercise (especially weight-bearing, balance exercises and strength training) to maintain muscle mass, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol. Avoiding fractures is also very important as both women and men get older. For some women, hormone replacement therapy in menopause can also be very effective in maintaining bone health.
Tobie de Villiers, consultant gynecologist associated with Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa and co-author of the ‘Update on bone health’ report said:
“Osteoporosis is often referred to as a “silent disease”. Previously, it was only diagnosed when a fracture occurred, but we can now make predictions using the presence of risk factors and women should be helped by health services to make lifestyle changes or discuss the need for specific medication to restore bone strength.”
The new bone health advice is available on the IMS website.