Published on March 01, 2019

Q&A: Women and bone strength

Michael YangAs women get older, their bones tend to lose some of their strength. That puts them at risk for the brittle-bone disease called osteoporosis.

Fortunately, there’s much that women can do as they age to keep their bones as strong and dense as possible. Michael Yang, MD, a Mercy sports medicine specialist, explains why women are at special risk for weak bones and how they can maintain bone health.

Q: Why is bone health more of a concern for women than for men?

Women’s bones are naturally smaller than men’s bones. Also, the sharp drop in estrogen after menopause makes women’s bones weaker. Women have almost four times the risk for osteoporosis as men have.

Q: What can women do to help maintain bone health as they age?

Women can help keep their bones strong by:

  • Being physically active
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Not smoking
  • Eating a well-balanced diet with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables
  • Consuming healthy amounts of calcium, such as in milk and other dairy products
  • Getting enough vitamin D in your diet is helpful, too. But regular exercise and eating nutritious foods may be more important than vitamin D supplements.

Q: When should women have their bone mass tested? Should men have theirs tested too?

It’s recommended that women undergo bone density testing when they turn 65. Your doctor might suggest testing earlier if you’re at high risk for fracture. There isn’t currently enough evidence to recommend bone testing in men.