When to see your doctor about osteoporosis
If you have a history of maternal osteoporosis in your family, ask your doctor about a bone density scan to confirm whether you have developed osteopenia, the precursor to osteoporosis, it’s diagnosed when bone density is low but not low enough to be osteoporosis. Women who have an early menopause (before age 45), also face a higher risk of low bone density in later life. So if that’s you, it’s important to have a bone density test within 10 years of going through menopause.
If your doctor suspects you have osteoporosis, they can make an assessment using an online programme, such as FRAX or Q-Fracture.
These tools help to predict a person's risk of fracture between the ages of 40 and 90 to give a 10-year probability of hip fracture and a 10-year probability of a major fracture in the spine, hip, shoulder or forearm.
You’re doctor may be able to send you for a gold-standard DEXA scan but, anecdotally, we’ve heard they’re hard to get.
There are medications options for treating osteoporosis. NICE guidelines offer two different treatment pathways for post menopause women following a diagnosis of osteoporosis who have or haven’t had a fracture. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you. Also check the National Osteoporosis Society for detailed information.
And then there’s always HRT….
HRT may be recommended where there is a family history of osteoporosis, known risk factors or where women have experienced early menopause. It is thought that HRT may decrease the likelihood of fractures.
The usual caveat here, that this is something to be discussed with your doctor. There are pros and cons to taking HRT. See our Hot Flush vlog, Osteopenia & HRT – Catriona’s & Judith’s Story. and our conversation with our gynaecologist, Hot FlushTalking Morton Talking Menopause Health Dr Karen Morton. We don’t take a view. It’s for you to decide whether it’s for you or not.