Do Hormones Play a Role in Preventing Osteoporosis?
How Can Hormone Replacement Therapy Help Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a health condition that causes the bones to be weak, resulting in painful fractures. The human bones are made up of ling cells and are continually broken down and replaced. However, in certain people, the rate at which new bones are created doesn’t keep up with the pace at which old ones are broken down. This results in bone loss, which eventually leads to Osteoporosis, or “thinning bones.”
A healthy bone has small spaces; however, Osteoporosis causes the spaces to enlarge. The bone then loses density and strength, and the outside becomes thinner and weaker.
Over the years, hormone replacement therapy has become one of the popular treatment options, but it comes with its challenges and limitations like any other therapy.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors
While several factors such as lifestyle options and medical history can cause Osteoporosis, some expose a section of the human population to increased risk of developing this condition. Some of the common risk factors include:
- Age – older people are more likely to develop Osteoporosis since they have a slower bone replacement rate than their younger counterparts. As people hit their 30s, the bone mass is destroyed faster than they are created.
- Gender and ethnicity – Women of white or Asian origin are more likely to suffer from “thinning bones” than men or women from a different ethnic background.
- Family history – Someone whose parent(s) had a history of bone fractures or Osteoporosis has higher chances of developing it later in life.
- Body-frame size – People with smaller body frames have a higher risk of reporting a fractured bone due to a diminishing bone mass as they age.
Steroid usage, dietary habits, and hormone levels are the other factors contributing to increased risks of developing Osteoporosis.
Hormones and Osteoporosis
Before we look at how hormone replacement therapy can be used as a viable treatment, it’s crucial to understand the link between human hormones and Osteoporosis.
Studies have linked low levels of human sex hormones, such as estrogen, to menopausal bone loss, which is the loss of bone mass once women reach menopause. Reduction of sex hormone, testosterone in men, and high levels of thyroid hormone (which regulates the rate at which calories are burnt) have also been shown to interfere with bone development.
Hormone replacement therapy uses the principle of hormone level correction to boost or lower hormone production, hence prevent or treat the condition. However, hormone replacement therapy is only administered after a thorough diagnosis to minimize side effects and its associated risks; thus, not every patient would be eligible.
Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment
Besides hormone replacement therapy, there are several other natural ways in which Osteoporosis can be prevented and even treated. Prevention often focuses on ensuring proper nutrition and following a healthy lifestyle, such as exercising regularly.
Keeping a balanced diet is key, but a keen emphasis is given to food groups with nutrients that promote bone health, such as protein, Vitamin K, Zinc, and Magnesium. Recommended exercises vary depending on the patients’ state and range from normal stretches to advanced weight-bearing exercises.
Some herbs and supplements have also become popular over the years for patients who opt for alternative treatments instead of over-the-counter medications or hormone replacement therapy options. However, the use of alternative treatment options requires a proper prescription from a qualified medical provider.
Hormone Replacement Therapy for Osteoporosis
Before we look at the available therapies in this category, let’s first understand what hormone replacement therapy is and how it works.
Hormone replacement therapy is a treatment given to relieve symptoms of menopause. Hormone replacement therapy is often administered to women to replace female hormones lower than normal due to aging or menopause and other health conditions.
In the case of Osteoporosis, hormone replacement therapy includes a wide range of hormonal products, each with a different mode or route of administration, for example:
- Oral – They are administered through the mouth in the form of pills.
- Topical – these include creams applied to certain parts of the body.
- Transdermal – this is a medicated adhesive patch placed on certain skin areas to deliver specific hormones.
- Vaginal ring or cream – a ring with estrogen hormone delivered directly to the vagina.
There are three common hormones used to deliver this type of therapy.
Estrogen is a naturally occurring female reproductive hormone responsible for several physical body changes in women. There are several forms of estrogen currently used for hormone replacement therapy. Your medical provider will decide which one is best for you before administering any form of estrogen.
The progesterone hormone usually regulates menstruation and helps prepare the body for conception. This hormone is administered as a hormone replacement therapy.
Testosterone naturally is present in both males and females at different levels in the body. Many associate this hormone with libido, however, one of the greatest benefits of testosterone is its ability to assist with bone production.
Hormones can play a role in the prevention of osteoporosis. Experts believe hormone replacement therapy is effective in alleviating symptoms of Osteoporosis.