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Questions and tests needed to check for osteoporosis
EleanorAnne posted:
I will be turning 48 this year and with a family history of osteoporosis I would like to be proactive.

When scheduling my yearly GYN exam, what questions should I ask and which tests should I ask for?

And, for my age, how much calcium and vitamin D should I be taking?

Thank you,
bonebabe responded:
Depends on whether you're postmenopausal or not. If you are, especially if you're not on hormones, you need a baseline DXA. After that, depending on your results and other medical history, you'd get one every 2-3 years.

If you've not gone through either a surgical (removal of ovaries) or natural (not had a period in one year) menopause, you'd be perfect for the Sahara heel ultrasound. This test is often given free at health fairs. If your doctor or testing center offers it, the cost is anywhere from $35-$50. It's a test to see if you need to have a DXA earlier than you might ordinarily have one. It's not diagnostic, although you will get a T-score. It's about 80% accurate. You would only have this test once in your lifetime. If it's determined you now need a DXA, then you'd continue having repeat DXA's. If your test was normal and you had no other risk factors, you'd have a DXA after you'd gone through menopause.

As for calcium, you need 1200mg each day in diet and/or supplements. You will benefit only from 500 mg at a time, so spread it thoughout the day. You also need 1000 IU of Vit D each day. Your calcium supplement and multivitamin should cover this.

You can access the National Osteoporosis Foundation website ( ) for a lot of this information. It used to have, and may still, a section on questions to ask your doctor or preparing for your doctor visit or something like that.

For women, the big issue is menopause. With the production of estrogen stopping, the bone density drops, so that's why you want to pay attention. You can also lose up to 20% of your bone density during the 5 years going into and through menopause. Another red flag for testing is prednisone use for greater than 12 weeks.

Hope this gives you a starting point for a conversation with your doctor.

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For more information, visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation website