Hormone Replacement and Osteoporosis
Coburn Hobar, MD
Jessica B Johnson
Kristine M Lohr, MD
Mary L Windle, PharmD
Lee P Shulman, MD
Hormone Replacement and Osteoporosis Introduction
Hormones are produced by glands in our bodies. They are chemicals that have specific effects on different parts of our bodies. For example, the ovaries produce estrogen that enters the bloodstream and has effects on the uterus. As we age, our bodies start to produce smaller amounts of hormones, particularly reproductive hormones such as estrogen and progesterone in women and testosterone in men.
Eventually, production of reproductive hormones declines, and in women, the decline results in menopause, when menstruation stops. In women, bone loss occurs rapidly in the perimenopausal years. Bone loss can eventually lead to osteoporosis (or porous bones). Without prevention or treatment, osteoporosis can progress without pain or symptoms until a bone breaks (fractures). Fractures commonly occur in the hip, spine, and wrist. Osteoporosis is the underlying cause of more than 1.5 million fractures annually (300,000 hip fractures, approximately 700,000 vertebral fractures, 250,000 wrist fractures, and more than 300,000 fractures in other areas). The estimated national cost (hospitals and nursing homes) for osteoporosis and related injuries is $14 billion each year in the United States.
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