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Osteoporosis and osteopaenia

Healthy bones help you stay mobile and independent. It’s never too early to look after your bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Learn more about osteoporosis and osteopaenia, including common risk factors.

Topics on this page


Osteoporosis is when bones lose their density and become thin, weak and fragile. This makes them more at risk of fracture, even from something as simple as a minor bump. Often there are no signs or symptoms of osteoporosis until a fracture occurs.

Any bone can be affected by osteoporosis, but the most common sites are:

  • hip
  • spine
  • wrist
  • ribs
  • pelvis
  • upper arm.

The older you get, the greater the risk of osteoporosis. In Australia, it’s estimated that 23% of women over 50 have osteoporosis.

Risk factors include:

  • family history
  • low calcium intake
  • low vitamin D levels
  • low levels of physical activity
  • smoking
  • high alcohol intake.

Other risk factors include:

  • early or premature menopause
  • certain medicines (e.g. warfarin, thyroid hormone)
  • some medical conditions (e.g. coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, thyroid conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, anorexia nervosa)
  • breaking a bone when you’re over 50.


Osteopaenia is when you have lower bone density, but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis. If you have osteopaenia your risk of breaking a bone is higher than normal, but not as high as it is with osteoporosis.


If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopaenia, it’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations about exercise and calcium and vitamin D intake.

Learn more about how osteoporosis treatments work. Visit the Healthy Bones Australia website.

This web page is designed to be infor­ma­tive and edu­ca­tion­al. It is not intend­ed to pro­vide spe­cif­ic med­ical advice or replace advice from your health prac­ti­tion­er. The infor­ma­tion above is based on cur­rent med­ical knowl­edge, evi­dence and prac­tice as at Octo­ber 2023.

This con­tent has been reviewed by a group of med­ical sub­ject mat­ter experts, in accor­dance with Jean Hailes pol­i­cy.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2014. Estimating the prevalence of osteoporosis. Cat. no. PHE 178. Canberra: AIHW
Last updated: 
05 February 2024
Last reviewed: 
11 October 2023

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