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Osteopenia is a condition that begins as you lose bone mass, and your bones get weaker.
This happens when the inside of your bones become brittle from a loss of calcium. It’s very common as you age. Total bone mass peaks around age 35. People who have osteopenia are at a higher risk of having osteoporosis. Most people who have osteopenia don’t have symptoms. Loss of bone mass isn’t painful. Broken bones or fractures can occur, but these problems tend to happen once you have osteoporosis.
Women are more likely to have osteopenia than men. This is due to several factors. Women have a lower bone mass overall and absorb less calcium than men do. They also tend to live longer. In women, the rate of bone loss speeds up after menopause as estrogen levels fall. Since the ovaries make estrogen, faster bone loss will occur if both ovaries are removed by surgery.
Questions for your doctor:
• Based on my age and lifestyle, am I at risk for osteopenia?
• When should I start being concerned about my bone density?
• Should I get a bone density test and, if so, how often?
• What foods should I eat or avoid lowering my risk of osteopenia?
• What types of exercise should I do and how often?
• Do I need to take a calcium or vitamin D supplement?