Bone is living tissue made up of specialized bone cells, and like the rest of the body, it is constantly being broken down and renewed. Osteoporosis is a decrease in bone mass and bone density (when bone being broken down is faster than being renewed), resulting in an increased risk and/or incidence of fracture. Women can expect to lose around 1% of their bone mineral density each year in the years beyond their menopause (postmenopausal). If healthy bones are not being maintained, postmenopausal women will most likely develop osteoporosis as they age.
The risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women can be further increased by family history, smoking, diet, chemotherapy, long-term corticosteroids and some hormonal therapies that lower estrogen. Women who have an early menopause (for e.g. induced by chemotherapy) are also at higher risk.
Women with osteoporosis may be put on specific treatment, such as bisphosphonates. In order to gain maximal effect from their osteoporosis treatment, these women need to ensure they have adequate calcium in their diet, sufficient vitamin D levels and maintaining physically active.
In general, postmenopausal women should maintain healthy bones by following the guidelines below.