The stereotypical image that comes to mind when hearing the word osteoporosis is that of a fragile-appearing, elderly woman.
Stereotypes often have some basis in truth. Indeed, in the United States, an estimated 7.8 million women have osteoporosis, compared to 2.3 million men. Let’s take a look at the differences in osteoporosis between men and women.
Men do not experience a period of rapid bone loss such as that experienced by women in the years immediately following menopause. As a result, men tend to be diagnosed with osteoporosis later in life. The slower rate of bone loss in men makes their clinical appearance of age-related osteoporosis less apparent. Even if men have a hip fracture, they are less likely to be treated for osteoporosis than are women. Seventy to eighty percent of osteoporosis in men occurs as a result of side effects of medication, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, testosterone deficiency, or secondary to other medical conditions (kidney, thyroid, liver and other bone diseases).
There is an important gender-based difference in the mortality of osteoporotic fractures. For reasons that are unclear, men are twice as likely to die following a hip or pelvic fracture as are women.
Healthy men have greater bone density than healthy women of the same age due, in large part, to men’s higher level of testosterone. As such, physician monitored replacement of deficient testosterone can especially impact bone density for men.
At-risk or concerned men should ask their doctor about having a Bone Mineral Density test to facilitate early diagnosis and treatment.