What Is Postmenopausal
Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones over time. Because of this, it puts you at risk for breaking a bone. Postmenopausal osteoporosis is the most common form of osteoporosis. It affects many women after menopause.
How does postmenopausal osteoporosis develop?
- Everyone has cells that remove old bone and other cells that rebuild new bone. This ongoing process is part of what keeps your bones strong. When you have postmenopausal osteoporosis, bone-removing cells cause you to lose bone at a rate that is too fast.
- The result is thinner, weaker bones that can break more easily.
- In women, bone loss increases after menopause. In the 5 to 7 years after menopause, you can lose up to 20 percent of your bone mass—leaving you at risk for fracture.
Thinning bones: A close-up look
Bone images courtesy of David W. Dempster, PhD 2000. Reproduced with permission.
Photos taken through a microscope make it easier to see why bones affected by osteoporosis can break. Unlike normal bone, osteoporotic bone looks like a honeycomb. As osteoporosis develops, the honeycomb holes become larger—making the bone tissue thinner and weaker. This puts you at risk for fractures.
Thinner bones put you at risk of fracture
- If left untreated, osteoporosis can advance painlessly until a bone breaks (fractures).
- Bones can become so weak that they can break from a minor fall.
- Most osteoporosis-related fractures occur in the hip, spine, and wrist, but other bones can be affected.
- A fracture due to postmenopausal osteoporosis can be a life-changing event.