According to a new survey distributed by The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), while 98 percent of women who participated consider bone strength to be an important health concern, nearly half (45 percent) of these women reported that osteoporosis was not addressed during their last routine OB/GYN visit, and more than a quarter (26.4 percent) of women surveyed have never discussed osteoporosis with their OB/GYN. More than 880 women completed the NAMS consumer survey which assessed how they discuss osteoporosis with their OB/GYNs.
"The potential for rapid bone loss in women over the age of 45, approaching menopause should be a concern, but unfortunately osteoporosis can be overlooked since it is often a 'silent' disease until a fracture occurs," said NAMS Executive Director, Wulf H. Utian, MD, PhD, DSc(Med). "We hope the results of this survey will encourage improved dialogue between women and their OB/GYNs to help prevent unnecessary fractures."
During the first five years after reaching menopause, women lose an average of 10 percent of their bone mass, making them more susceptible to osteoporosis. However, this survey showed that less than 10 percent of women reported being informed by their OB/GYNs that broken bones after menopause could be a sign of osteoporosis.
Studies have shown that in the U.S. over 70 percent of osteoporosis-related fractures and 94 percent of fracture costs are associated with non-spinal fractures. However, only 10 percent of women surveyed reported that their OB/GYNs have discussed the importance of preventing breaks in non-spinal bones.
The national survey results provided further insights into how women communicate with their OB/GYNs about osteoporosis.
- Almost half (46.8 percent) of women reported that they have never discussed their own personal risk of osteopenia or osteoporosis with their OB/GYN.
- Only a quarter of women reported that their OB/GYNs have told them that if left untreated, osteoporosis can lead to broken bones.
- While 62.5 percent of women reported that their OB/GYN has recommended a bone density test, 26.8 percent of women surveyed have never had one.
- Of the 45 women who experienced a broken bone over the past five years, in sites commonly associated with osteoporosis (hip, spine, wrist, collarbone, arm, leg, pelvis), more than half (35 women) reported that their OB/GYN was unaware of this broken bone.
- While the majority of women surveyed reported that their OB/GYNs have told them that broken bones could be a consequence of osteoporosis, other potential consequences were not as well known, including loss of height, dowager's hump and disability or immobility.
A variety of doctors might diagnose and treat women for osteoporosis, but it is not specific to any one type of doctor or specialty. The goal of this survey was to determine how osteoporosis is being addressed by OB/GYNs specifically, as they are often the primary healthcare provider for women around the time of menopause when the risk of osteoporosis begins to increase.
"Women need to make the connection between menopause and osteoporosis to ensure they are asking the right questions and sharing the right information with their OB/GYNs. NAMS can play a key role in this education," said Dr. Utian.
SOURCE The North American Menopause Society