Treating Menopause & Osteoporosis Without Hormones
Menopause and Osteoporosis
During menopause, levels of the hormone estrogen taper off drastically. Women after menopause generally only have one-tenth the level of estrogen that they had before the transition. Estrogen is essential in regulating many of the body's functions. Most of the symptoms of menopause are due to this drop in hormones. One of the most detrimental changes due to lower estrogen levels is bone loss.
Osteoporosis is condition characterized by a lack of bone strength that results in a higher incidence of fractures than is normal. As estrogen levels taper off, bones cease to rebuild themselves, and so they become increasingly brittle until a diagnosis of osteoporosis is called for. Most of the loss in bone density occurs during the first few years after menopause, but it continues thereafter at a slower rate. Most women with osteoporosis due to menopause have been treated with hormone replacement therapy.
Hormone replacement therapy adds estrogen and progesterone back into the body, to match the premenopausal levels. They are highly effective at preventing the loss of bone density and later osteoporosis that come with menopause. Unfortunately, studies have shown that the risks often outweigh the benefits where hormone therapy is concerned.
The Dangers of Hormone Replacement Therapy
A large federally funded study of hormone replacement therapy uncovered that the treatment was associated with increased rates of heart disease, breast cancer, stroke, blood clots, and dementia in the patients. Hormone replacement therapy is still an option in cases of severe bone loss, but it is important to consult with a knowledgeable physician before beginning this type of treatment.
Alternatives to Hormones
There are alternatives to dangerous hormone therapies. For some people, simple lifestyle changes may be enough.
- TAKE VITAMINS.Calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K can help reduce bone loss. Preferably, they should be ingested through food sources rather than supplements, since they're more effective this way. That means including more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products in your diet.
- LIMIT ALCOHOL.Limit alcohol intake as this can not only affect bone density but also make you more liable to fall and break bones.
- STOP SMOKING. Stop smoking. Smoking is bad for the whole body, bones included.
- EXERCISE. Finally, exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, has been shown to improve bone strength.