Frederick Singer (Director of the Endocrine/Bone Disease Program, John Wayne Cancer Institute ) gives expert video advice on: Can osteoporosis affect my sex life? and more...
What is "osteoporosis"?
Osteoporosis is a very common skeletal disorder which is characterized by less bone than you should have, which therefore makes the bone fragile and prone to fracture.
How common is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is actually one of the most common disorders in elderly people. Perhaps 25 million people in America have a low bone density. They don't all have osteoporosis, but quite a few of those do have osteoporosis.
What is the cause of osteoporosis?
When it comes to the causes of osteoporosis, there is actually no single cause of osteoporosis. A variety of factors can lead to bone loss. This actually includes heredity, hormone deficiencies, certain medications, alcohol and heavy use of cigarettes.
What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
In fact, there are very few symptoms of osteoporosis in the general population of patients. They actually have bone loss associated with osteoporosis without any sensation. The first symptom of osteoporosis may actually be a fracture, which of course is a very painful experience. Later symptoms of osteoporosis would include multiple fractures in the spine. Severe deformity can develop with the osteoporosis which can cause a lot of symptoms such as pains in the back and difficulty walking.
Does osteoporosis ever occur in children?
Fortunately, osteoporosis is very uncommon in children but it does occur. Osteoporosis in children is usually an extremely rare hereditary disorder. Sometimes it could be due to treatments with steroids for other conditions. And then in young girls anorexia nervosa, a very difficult psychological condition, may lead to osteoporosis. There's extreme weight loss. The period doesn't come on and it is a very bad form of osteoporosis.
Is osteoporosis a painful condition?
Most patients with osteoporosis have no pain until there's a fracture or deformity of the spine.
Can osteoporosis affect my sex life?
Fortunately, osteoporosis has little effect on sex life. If you have an acute fracture, of course there's a problem, but otherwise I see no evidence that it effects sex life.
Can osteoporosis or its treatment lead to other diseases?
Osteoporosis, in its most severe form, may lead to or be associated with marked loss of height, up to three or four inches, or even more. In that case, it's a rather strange situation, where the internal organs, the lung, the chest, the intestine and the abdomen are compressed. This can then lead to difficulty breathing because of lung compression, and so therefore osteoporosis can lead to abdominal distress pains which are very unpleasant.
Can osteoporosis be fatal?
Osteoporosis is not a fatal disorder. However, if you have a fracture and you're fairly old, the death rate over the next year or so increases, and perhaps surprisingly, more in men than in women. The reason for this is really not very clear, but we presume there is great stress because of a fracture. Many people end up in nursing homes, and this is very debilitating to the psyche. Perhaps the chronic stress and change from someone living on the outside, to someone having to be confined in a retirement or a nursing home is a terrible stress.