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Women and Osteoporosis

Tara Anderson, M.D.
Obstetrics/Gynecology, Rush Copley Medical Group

Women have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis since women have less bone tissue and experience bone loss more rapidly than men. Women also experience bone loss more rapidly during menopause because the lack of estrogen causes women to lose two to three percent of bone mass each year.

Other risk factors include age, family history, race, bone structure, body weight, smoking, lifestyle and chronic diseases. Risk factors can indicate if you are more likely to develop osteoporosis, but the only sure way to determine bone density and risk for osteoporosis is to have a bone densitometry test.

All women aged 65 and older regardless of risk factors and younger postmenopausal women with one or more risk factors should be screened. The test measures bone density in your lower spine and hip, two of the most common sites of fractures due to osteoporosis. Bone densitometry testing is quick, painless and noninvasive.

The information from this test enables your doctor to determine whether you are at risk for a fracture. In general, the lower your bone density, the higher your risk for fracture. A physician referral is required for this test so consult with your healthcare provider to determine if you should be tested.