Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone condition that affects most people to varying degrees as they increase in age. Various cells in the body lose the ability to sufficiently maintain bone strength, and the result is a small amount of bone loss every year. This thinning of the bones may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but the gradual loss of bone density adds up over time and can lead to painful breaks or fractures. Such injuries can be life-changing, and for this reason, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is often used to treat or prevent menopausal osteoporosis.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
The aging process naturally causes both men and women to lose bone density. However, menopause often accelerates bone loss and is the primary reason why older women have osteoporosis.
Everybody knows that vitamins and minerals play a fundamental role in the maintenance of a person's bones, but hormones play an equally important role. Both osteoclasts (cells that break down old bone) and osteoblasts (cells that build new bone) are responsible for keeping bones strong and healthy. The reproductive hormone estrogen is fundamental in regulating these cells, and when levels are decreased, the body's ability to maintain bone strength is significantly impaired.
HRT for Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis often results from hormonal fluctuations in women's bodies during menopause. HRT, which restores hormonal balance by introducing artificial hormones into the body, helps prevent bone loss and can relieve other symptoms of menopause.
Hormone replacement therapy is one of the leading treatments for hormonal imbalance. Since osteoporosis is linked to hormone imbalances, women often turn to this treatment method in order to prevent possible bone fractures. However, HRT comes with side effects, and anybody seeking this course of treatment for osteoporosis should carefully weigh the benefits and risks.
Side Effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Any treatment that changes the body's natural composition is likely to produce some side effects. HRT is no different. Known side effects of using hormone replacement therapy for an extended period of time include increased risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer, stroke, and blood clots.
Despite being able to effectively treat hormone imbalances and relieve many symptoms of menopause, HRT can pose serious health risks. Additionally, recent studies have found that HRT only provides mild protection against osteoporosis during menopause.
Follow the links below to learn more about the connection between osteoporosis and menopause.
- Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Menopause and Osteoporosis. Retrieved January 22, 2016, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic-what-is-perimenopause-menopause-postmenopause/hic_Menopause_and_Osteoporosis
- New York State Department of Health. (2015). Calcium and Healthy Bones. Retrieved January 22, 2016, from https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/1982.pdf