Dowager’s hump is an old-fashioned term for an obvious sign of osteoporosis in women. Today’s women do not think of themselves as dowagers once they reach a certain age, but that telltale humping of the back due to bone loss still occurs. On the plus side, women are more often screened for osteoporosis than their male counterparts.
For men, an actual fracture is often the first sign of serious bone loss. Fragile, brittle bones may end up causing permanent disability at worst and a less active and fulfilling lifestyle at best.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) can help prevent osteoporosis in both genders, with the appropriate hormone regimen for each sex and individual.
Osteoporosis is generally considered synonymous with bone loss, but it is somewhat more complicated than that. Bones become fragile and brittle because the body is not making enough bone or losing too much of it, or a combination of the two.
“Porous bone” is the literal meaning of the term, and people suffering from osteoporosis may actually become shorter.
It is known as a silent disease, because a broken bone is often the first symptom. While any bone may break, those most frequently broken because of osteoporosis include:
Throughout an individual’s life, bones are constantly remodeled. Osteoblast cells form bones. At menopause, women lose significant amounts of estrogen as their ovaries stop producing this hormone. The lack of estrogen no longer allows osteoblasts to effectively perform their bone building work. Over time, half of all women will break a bone because of osteoporosis.
Lack of progesterone is another factor in female bone loss. This hormone, production of which also lessens during menopause, can reverse osteoporosis.
BHRT can help prevent osteoporosis by replacing the hormones lost through menopause with plant-based hormones that are the same on the molecular level as those produced by the body. Hence, the term “biologically identical” is used for these hormones.
In men, it is the loss of testosterone that makes the bones more vulnerable. While men do not experience osteoporosis at the same levels as women – 25 percent of men will suffer a broken bone from the disease, versus 50 percent of females – it is still a common condition. Testosterone replacement may prevent these fractures in men.
Low levels of the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) can contribute to bone loss in women. While DHEA is available in over-the-counter forms, it is not wise to take this supplement unless under a doctor’s supervision.
When part of a BHRT and calcium/vitamin D regimen, DHEA can increase bone density by several percentage points.
BHRT is tailored to each patient and regular monitoring and dosage adjustments are part of the regimen. While BHRT can help men and women prevent or slow the rate of osteoporosis, a holistic approach to bone loss is necessary. This includes an exercise regimen designed to strengthen bones, and created for the individual’s patient’s needs and capabilities.
Weight-bearing exercises are especially useful. Yoga and other practices promoting flexibility can keep bones healthy. A healthy diet rich in calcium also helps protect bone.
If you would like more information on how BHRT can help prevent osteoporosis, call Dr. Edward Jacobson’s offices today and arrange a consultation.