The important word here is ‘prevent’. At the moment there is no treatment that will significantly replace bone that has been lost Once bone is lost through osteoporosis, it is, for all practical purposes, lost forever. Spinal vertebrae that become deformed through osteoporosis remain deformed forever. If you are at risk of developing a condition which is virtually irreversible, prevention becomes very important.
There is considerable evidence to show that starting oestrogen therapy within two years of the menopause, and staying on it for at least five years, can reduce your risk of getting a fracture of the hip or of a vertebra by 50 per cent. If you have had an early menopause you will have more years without oestrogen ahead of you, so you will need to stay on it for longer, probably until 65 or 70. Obviously HRT is more effective if started early and before you have lost much of your bone mass, but it really is never too late to start. In the United States, women sometimes go on it for the first time after a fractured hip in their nineties! Even in quite elderly women, HRT can slow bone loss.