New report from International Menopause Society highlights growing issue of poor bone health

Monday 18th October 2021, marks World Menopause Day, a global awareness day established by the International Menopause Society (IMS), to support women across the world and to recognise the challenges of menopausal symptoms and related conditions.  

This World Menopause Day, the IMS published a new Update on bone health report, highlighting bone health as one of the most prevalent health issues for midlife women, particularly during and post menopause. The report, carried out by world leading health experts, raised concerns about osteoporosis, sarcopenia and osteosarcopenia which are conditions especially prevalent in women.  The report notes that more than 200 million women are estimated to have osteoporosis and, as populations continue to age, the problem is getting worse.

black and white photograph of a woman adopting the downward-dog yoga pose

Most women experience menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, and, during this time, they will often lose bone mass and strength rapidly. This puts them at risk of osteoporosis which, in turn, increases their chance of fractures. IMS researchers highlight that 1 in 3 women aged over 50 will experience osteoporosis fractures.

The report warns of the risks of reduced quality of life, chance of disability and premature death all associated with osteoporosis fractures. 

Steven R. Goldstein, MD, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, President of the International Menopause Society and co-author of the ‘Update on bone health’ report said:

“Bone health is a crucial issue for midlife women.

“It’s fantastic that life expectancy continues to grow across the world but it does mean that the amount of people suffering from osteoporosis and/or sarcopenia is also increasing. This can significantly affect their day to day functioning, quality of life and ability to live independently. 

“Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually. The implications of this are extremely serious, sadly 21% of women who fracture their hip will die within one year.

“In addition, poor bone health places a huge burden on health and social care systems globally.”

How to protect bone health

The IMS advises women to maintain healthy bones by increasing their dietary intake of calcium, vitamin D and protein, using exercise (especially weight-bearing, balance exercises and strength training) to maintain muscle mass, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol.  Avoiding fractures is also very important as both women and men get older. For some women, hormone replacement therapy in menopause can also be very effective in maintaining bone health. 

The full Update on bone health report is available on the IMS website alongside advice for women who may be suffering from poor bone health.

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