Postmenopausal osteoporosis

Obstet Gynecol Surv. 1999 Aug;54(8):532-8. doi: 10.1097/00006254-199908000-00024.


Osteoporosis affects approximately 28 million Americans and costs about $14 billion a year. Low bone density is the most important risk factor for osteoporosis. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends bone density testing for all women over 65 and earlier (around the time of menopause) for women who have risk factors or who are considering therapy. Biochemical markers of bone remodeling, such as urine collagen cross links, may be useful to decide if treatment is needed and to determine the effectiveness of treatment. Once the diagnosis of osteoporosis is made, it is time to consider management options. A healthy life style is important for everyone: an adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D and regular weight-bearing exercise. Pharmacologic agents are indicated for all patients with fragility fractures and for many patients with low bone density. Estrogen is the agent of choice for both prevention and treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis; however, once estrogen is stopped, bone mass levels drop fairly quickly. Long-term adherence to hormone replacement therapy is not good. Effective alternatives for prevention of bone loss in recently menopausal women include alendronate (a bisphosphonate) and raloxifene (a selective estrogen-receptor modulator). Effective alternatives for treatment of established osteoporosis include alendronate and nasal calcitonin.

Target audience: Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Family Physicians

Learning objectives: After completion of this article, the reader will be able to understand the clinical impact and sequlae of osteoporosis in women, how to identify the high risk patient and those patient that should be screened, the various tests that are available for screening and monitoring, and the various pharmacologic therapies for osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Bone Density
  • Diphosphonates / therapeutic use
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy / adverse effects
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy / standards
  • Estrogens / agonists*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Mass Screening
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal* / diagnosis
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal* / prevention & control
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal* / therapy
  • Piperidines / therapeutic use
  • Raloxifene Hydrochloride
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Diphosphonates
  • Estrogens
  • Piperidines
  • Raloxifene Hydrochloride