Bone Mineral Density (BMD) Testing for Postmenopausal Women

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 is a BMD test recommended for postmenopausal women?

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, medical history including your history of broken bones, your parental history of osteoporosis and/or fracture, and more) when deciding on the right time for you to have a BMD test.

The NYSOPEP Osteoporosis Risk Assessment for Postmenopausal Women 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 postmenopausal women:

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

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

  • Discussing your medical history and risk factors for osteoporosis with your healthcare provider
  • Getting a BMD test when your healthcare provider decides it is the right time for you
  • Following the universal strategies to promote stronger bones for life