Osteoporosis in Men

Osteoporosis in men is more common than you might think. The misconception that men don't get osteoporosis can cause delays in their diagnosis and treatment. 

Facts on men and osteoporosis

Believe it or not, 20 million men in the United States have osteoporosis. One in four men older than age 50 will have an osteoporotic-related fracture in his lifetime. 

Men don't go through menopause like women do. Men's sudden drop in hormone levels and onset of osteoporosis is later. By the age of 65, men are losing bone at the same rate as women. 

Men of any race can develop osteoporosis. Men of Caucasian and Asian backgrounds are more likely to have low bone mass than African Americans or Hispanics. 

Osteoporosis in Men

Understanding Osteoporosis in Men

Although most research has been focused on women with osteoporosis, researchers are starting to put more emphasis on understanding why and when men develop osteoporosis.

Men generally start adulthood with a higher peak bone mass. 

Osteoporosis begins to affect men about 10 years later than women. 

Since both men and women are living longer these days, doctors expect more people will have hip fractures in the future. 

By the age of 86, just as many men as women have hip fractures. 

All men older than 70 need a baseline scan. Men under 70 that have risk factors such as corticosteroid use or use of drugs to treat prostate cancer, also need a baseline scan. 

Risk factors of osteoporosis

The following are common risk factors for male osteoporosis... 

  • Lack of exercise 
    Like women, men also need to do weight-bearing exercises for 20 to 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week to build bone strength.

  • Alcohol abuse 
    Abusing alcohol increases bone loss. Approximately 25 to 50 percent of men seeking treatment for alcohol abuse have low bone mass.

  • Low hormone levels 
    Men may need hormone replacement because up to 30 percent of men with osteoporosis have low levels of testosterone. 

    Men experiencing andropause or male menopause is very different than women that experience menopause. Women experiencing menopause have estrogen levels drop when menses stop. 

    In men, falling testosterone levels may not be easily detected during andropause. Therefore, signs of andropause may be subtler than menopause symptoms in women.

  • Inadequate vitamin D and calcium intake 
    Men older than 50 should take 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D and consume 1,200 mg of calcium every day.

  • Smoking 
    Male smokers are two to three times more likely to fracture vertebrae as nonsmokers.

  • Prostate cancer 
    Testosterone levels can lower due to chemotherapy for treating prostate cancer.

  • Use of corticosteroids for diseases 
    Use of corticosteroids accounts for between 15 to 20 percent of osteoporosis in men. Men taking these drugs need to have their testosterone levels checked, maintain adequate calcium intake, and may need to take antiresorptive medications.

Treating men with osteoporosis

Fewer men than women are put on medication to reduce the risk of osteoporosis because osteoporosis in men is less recognized. 

Since many men who develop osteoporosis have low levels of testosterone, they may need to take testosterone supplements. Androgens stimulate bone formation. Doctors may prescribe testosterone in the form of gels, patches, or injections, to raise testosterone to normal levels. 

› Osteoporosis in Men

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