Osteoporosis is a disease whereby the bones lose calcium, a process called "demineralization." This loss of calcium causes the bones to become abnormally weak and prone to fracture
. Early diagnosis of osteoporosis is important because there are medical therapies available to treat osteoporosis, and prevent fractures, after it is recognized.
The US preventive task force, who advises physicians on screening tests for the general population, recommends bone mineral density testing (often called a "DEXA" scan), to screen for osteoporosis in all women above the age of 65. Women who have gone through menopause and are under 65, and men of any age, are also eligible for screening if they have certain risk factors, such as (but not limited to) a personal history of fractures, cigarette smoking, fractures in a first-degree relative, use of steroids, or a number of other circumstances. Your physician can help you decide whether or not screening is appropriate at your age by reviewing and screening for any of these risk factors.
Women who have not yet gone through menopause are at low risk for having treatable osteoporosis, but may still benefit from preventive measures such as calcium supplementation. Talk to your doctor
about whether you should be receiving a daily calcium supplement, as most women in the United States should do so.