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I feel this in my bones

Anita asks: Whenever I asked my mom about menopause, she always said "It's no big deal." Now she's been diagnosed with osteoporosis! Help! Now what do I TELL HER?


My reply:

Oh Anita! I feel for both you AND your mom. You have just highlighted one of THE GREATEST DISPARITIES in women's health! 

 

For decades, women have been fed the narrative that hot flashes (real term = vasomotor symptoms) are the only thing women need to worry about when it comes to menopause, and as a result, we missed the opportunity to properly educate and inform on 

i) the roles of estrogen and progesterone when cycles are regular and 

ii) how to make a plan for our heart, brain, bone and genitourinary health after they are not!

 

First, I'll point you towards the quality info, and then I'll offer some “script tips” for you & you mom ❤️


  1. Estrogen and progesterone protect our bones when cycles are regular. We lose approximately 20% of our bone mass within the first 5-6 years of postmenopause.

  2. Hormone therapy is approved for the prevention of bone loss. Tap here for The North American Menopause Society (now called “Menopause Society”) Position Paper on The Management of Osteoporosis in Postmenopause from 2021

  3. Bone health & osteoporosis requires a multi-pronged approach: i) medication to prevent osteoporosis from getting worse ii) strength building (ideally guided by a professional trained in osteoporosis) and balance exercises iii) discussion about potential benefits of hormone therapy iv) nutrition guided by a professional trained in osteoporosis.

It's never too early OR too late to put our bone health at the top of the priority list! 


 

Now, here are some ideas for talking to your mom about her bone health going forward:

 

  • Remind her she is not alone. And it's not too late.

  • Help her understand that having a diagnosis can often be a blessing when it propels us into both proactive and reactive action! What do I mean by this? Well, bone loss is silent--which means some women don't get a diagnosis of osteoporosis until they fall and experience a serious fracture. I hope that's not the case with your mom…and that her diagnosis is an invitation to surround herself with quality education and an interdisciplinary team who can support her health for the next few decades!

  • This is not the time to DIY (do-it-yourself) when it comes to exercise and nutrition; seek professional help. Too many head straight to the vitamin aisle and load up on calcium; don't do this. Instead, work with your doctor or a registered dietitian who can guide the right amounts of calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and anything else she might be missing nutritionally.

  • Same goes for exercise. Appropriate strength building is key, and so are balance exercises--guided by a professional.


 

P.S. Ever hear the old adage: “do whatever you can to prevent a fall?" 

 

While that's certainly important, I want to share another vantage point that has recently permeated my brain and I am inviting everyone to think about!

 

Many hip fractures occur because of a fall caused by a loss of balance, but this is not ALWAYS the case. 

 

Did you know that some falls can occur because the HIP FRACTURED FIRST? 

 

Yes, sometimes it's not “grandma fell and fractured her hip”…but rather “grandma's hip fractured which caused her to fall!” 

 

Our hip bones are more vulnerable to breaking because of a previous existing condition, like osteoporosis (current predictions are that 1-in-3 of us will break a bone to osteoporosis.) This condition can cause the hip bone to be so weakened that even twisting or standing on the leg can cause a fracture. Many doctors believe the fracture happens FIRST which leads to a fall.

 

Yet another reason to ensure we have a postmenopause bone health plan in place. Thanks for your question! xo



 

Please remember: 

 

Someone you love ❤️ needs this information 

Maybe it's YOU? 

Maybe it's a friend, sister, mom or colleague at work…

Thank you for sharing & paying it forward. 

 


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