Helpful Information on OSTEOPENIA & OSTEOPOROSIS

By emily.blumkin
March 22, 2018


Often times, when women who are in menopause come in for their annual exams we ask if you have had your bone density exam. Bone density exams are very important in determining if you are at risks of fractures due to osteopenia or osteoporosis. 

What is osteopenia and osteoporosis?

Osteopenia is a decrease in bone density. Normally we reabsorb bone to give the body nutrients while creating new bone and it is able to stay balanced. In osteopenia, the body is not able to keep up creating new bone at the same speed as it is using bone. Osteopenia is often considered a precursor to osteoporosis, however not everyone with osteopenia will develop osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a more severe form of osteopenia. There is such an increase in bone resorption that there is an increased risk of bone breaking. Osteoporosis is one of the most common causes of bone breaking in elderly women. The most common bones that are fractured in osteoporosis are the spine, hip, and forearm.

Why are post-menopausal women more commonly affected by osteopenia/osteoporosis?

When women are in menopause, there is a decrease in estrogen. Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone that is responsible for the development of women's reproductive systems and secondary sex characteristics. As women age, and they begin to go through menopause there is a decrease in estrogen. Estrogen is directly responsible for maintaining bone density.

What is a Bone Density Exam?

Dual-energy X-Ray Absorption, or DEXA scan, determines your bone density. It is two x-ray beams where we are able to differentiate the difference between soft bone tissue and hard bone tissue. This scan is able to give your clinician your "T-score" which is compared to a healthy females score. This score is represented by different categories to determine if you have normal bone density, osteopenia, or osteoporosis. Bone density exams should be performed in all post-menopausal women every few years. If there is osteopenia or osteoporosis, exams may need to be performed more frequently.

What you can do to help maintain normal bone density?

It is important to maintain a healthy, well balanced diet in order to make sure your body is getting all the proper nutrients it needs. Also, increasing weight baring exercise helps prevent osteopenia becoming osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercises include walking, running, hiking, dancing, tennis, and light weight training exercises. Non-weight baring exercises are swimming and cycling.


Information provided by Garden OB/GYN Provider, Victoria Gardner