Gender Differences in Osteoporosis and Fractures
Osteoporosis is generally thought of as a “woman’s disease” because the prevalence of osteoporosis and the rate of fractures are much higher in postmenopausal women than in older men. However, the absolute number of men affected by osteoporosis and fractures is large, as at least 2.8 million men in the United States are thought to have osteoporosis.
The purposes of this review are to (1) highlight gender differences in osteoporosis and fracture risk, (2) describe disparities in treatment and outcomes after fractures between men and women, and (3) propose solutions to reducing disparities in treatment and prevention.
A literature survey was conducted using MEDLINE with a variety of search terms and using references from the author’s personal collection of articles. A formal search strategy and exclusion criteria were not employed and the review is therefore selective.
Where are we now?
Postmenopausal women have a higher prevalence of osteoporosis and greater incidence of fracture than older men. Despite the higher fracture risk in postmenopausal women, older men tend to have worse outcomes after fracture and poorer treatment rates, although less is known about the disease course in men. Multifaceted interventions to improve the screening and treatment for osteoporosis were recently developed.
Where do we need to go?
Improvement in treatment rates of those at risk, regardless of gender, is an important goal in osteoporosis management.
How do we get there?
Further development and evaluation of cost-effective, multifaceted interventions for screening and treatment of osteoporosis and fractures are needed; such interventions will likely improve the primary prevention of fractures.