HealthDay News — A female patient, aged 50 years, may not need a second normal bone density test for 10 or even 15 years, results of a study published in Menopause indicate.

To estimate the incidence of first hip or clinical vertebral fracture or major osteoporotic (hip, clinical vertebral, proximal humerus, or wrist) fracture in postmenopausal women undergoing their first bone mineral density (BMD) test, Margaret Lee Gourlay, MD, MPH, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues studied data for 4,068 postmenopausal women aged of 50 and 64 years who took part in the ongoing Women’s Health Initiative study.

All of the women had undergone a bone mineral density test to assess their risk for fractures and osteoporosis. The women were not taking hormones, calcium, or vitamin D supplements, and had never had a fracture.

Among women whose tests showed no signs of osteoporosis, it took nearly 13 years for just 1% of the youngest women, and almost eight years for 1% of the oldest women, to suffer a spinal fracture or broken hip. It also took roughly 12 years for 3% of the younger women and nearly nine years for 3% of the older women without osteoporosis to sustain a spinal fracture or break a hip, wrist, or arm.

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Barring significant health issues — younger postmenopausal women with no sign of osteoporosis do not need a repeat bone mineral density test for 10 to 15 years, according to the investigators. However, they stressed that younger women who do show signs of bone loss are at high risk for a major fracture, and do require regular testing.


  1. Gourlay ML et al. Menopause. 2015; doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000356