How does the prevalence of osteoporosis differ between males and females?

Updated: Jan 20, 2021
  • Author: Rachel Elizabeth Whitaker Elam, MD, MSc; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Women are at a significantly higher risk for osteoporosis. Half of all postmenopausal women will have an osteoporosis-related fracture during their lifetime; 25% of these women will develop a vertebral deformity, and 15% will experience a hip fracture. [74] Risk factors for hip fracture are similar in different ethnic groups. [75]

Men have a higher prevalence of secondary osteoporosis, with an estimated 45-60% of cases being a consequence of hypogonadism, alcoholism, or glucocorticoid excess. [59] Only 35-40% of osteoporosis diagnosed in men is considered primary in nature. Overall, osteoporosis has a female-to-male ratio of 4:1.

Although loss of BMD is typically associated with postmenopausal women, a study to assess the likelihood of low BMD and related risk factors for osteoporosis in men and women aged 35 to 50 years found higher rates of osteopenia in men: 28% of men and 26% of women had osteopenia at the femoral neck region, and 6% and 2%, respectively, had osteoporosis of the lumbar spine. Of the 173 study subjects, 92 (53%) were women and 162 (94%) were white; none had previous known health issues or were taking medications that can affect BMD. [76]

Fifty percent of all women and 21% of all men older than 50 years experience one or more osteoporosis-related fractures in their lifetime. [77] Eighty percent of hip fractures occur in women. [73] Women have a two-fold increase in the number of fractures resulting from nontraumatic causes, as compared with men of the same age.

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