Bone Mineral Density (BMD) Testing for Men

What is a BMD test?

A bone mineral density test is an easy reliable test that measures the density, or thickness, of your bones. It measures the amount of mineral (calcium) in a specific area of bone. The more mineral you have in the bone measured, the greater your bone density or bone mass.

A BMD test can:

  • Measure the density of your bones
  • Detect osteoporosis before a bone breaks
  • Help to predict your chances of breaking a bone in the future
  • Help to determine if osteoporosis medication is working properly

BMD testing provides a T-score that compares your bone density to the average bone density of young healthy adults of same age and gender.

T-score                                                                       Interpretation
>-1.0                                                                     Normal Bone Density
Between -1.0 and -2.5                                            Low Bone Mass (Osteopenia)
-2.5 and below                                                       Osteoporosis

When should a man have a BMD test?

Overall, 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis related fracture. This is greater than the likelihood of developing prostate cancer. It is important to speak to your healthcare provider to find out when a BMD test is appropriate for you. Your healthcare provider will consider your risk factors for osteoporosis (such as your age, your medical history including your history of broken bones, your parental history of osteoporosis and/or fracture and others) when deciding on the right time for you to have a BMD test.

The NYSOPEP Osteoporosis Risk Assessment for Men is a tool that you can use to identify your personal risk factors for osteoporosis. The completed assessment should be discussed with your healthcare provider. The tool can be used to empower your discussion with your healthcare provider about how to reduce your risks for osteoporosis and help your healthcare provider decide when a BMD test is right for you. Although risk factors may increase your likelihood of getting osteoporosis, having risk factors does not mean that you have or will get the disease. A BMD test is the only way to diagnose osteoporosis.

Guidelines have been established to determine who should have a BMD test. BMD testing is generally recommended for the following men:

  • All men aged 60 or older
  • Men over age 50 with risk factors for osteoporosis (such as smoking, being small and thin, or parental history of osteoporosis or hip fracture)
  • Men who break a bone after age 50 or have lost more than 1-1/2 inches of height
  • Men over age 50 with a disease or medical condition associated with low bone mass or bone loss
  • Men over age 50 taking medication associated with low bone mass or bone loss

You can take an active role in the promotion of healthy bones by: