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Hormone Replacement Therapy and the Risk of Osteoporosis

Long-term hormone replacement therapy (HRT) reduces a woman's risk of developing osteoporosis, especially among women who have increased risk factors for osteoporosis. For more information, see the topic Osteoporosis.

After menopause, bones lose mass and density more rapidly than before menopause. Postmenopausal women are more likely to experience broken bones, such as hip fractures and compression fractures of the spinal bones. Women who have osteoporosis lose height because of bone loss.1

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Osteoporosis is a common cause of bone fractures in older women, which can lead to chronic pain and disability. Fractures can affect:1

  • The bones of the spine (vertebrae).
  • The hip. A hip fracture often leads to further health complications.
  • The wrist.

Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) and hormone replacement therapy (HRT):

  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis-related fractures, including hip fractures.2
  • Improve the absorption of calcium by the body to further prevent bone loss and related fractures. Eat a nutritious diet and be sure you are getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D.

But HRT and ERT may increase the risk of health problems for some women, including blood clots, stroke and breast cancer.2

Discuss your long-term risk of osteoporosis with your doctor. Other medicines are available to prevent or treat osteoporosis related to menopause.


  1. Speroff L, Fritz MA (2005). Menopause and the perimenopausal transition. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 7th ed., pp. 621-688. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  2. North American Menopause Society (2010). Estrogen and progestogen use in postmenopausal women: 2010 position statement of the North American Menopause Society. Menopause, 17(2): 242-255. Also available online:

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
Last Revised May 4, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 04, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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