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Friday, March 7, 2014
I was diagnosed in 2001 at the age of 31 with osteoporosis. I have been on high levels of prednisone for 3 years. My first doctor put me on Fosamax, and when I heard that this drug is not safe while pregnant, she switched me to Actonel. I`m not comfortable taking anything, since no one seems to know the long term side effects, so I stopped taking it. However, I`m now seeing a new doctor and she recommended me taking Didronel. I`ve never heard of it, so of course I`m hesitant. What is your opinion of the drug? And, what is your opinion on young women taking osteoporosis medications?
I share your concern about taking drugs that stay in the body a long time if you are thinking about becoming pregnant. All of the drugs you mentioned are in the same family of drugs (bisphosphonates) and could have the same effect. There is some debate about the length of time each of them stays in the body, but it is a rather long time for all of them depending on how the time is calculated. Things I would recommend first would be to check your 25 hydroxy-vitamin D level and to be sure it is in the upper range of normal, take recommended amounts of calcium (usually 1200 mg per day counting what you get in food/dairy products, no more than a 500 mg calcium supplement at a time; do not take all of your calcium at once). If you are not having regular menses, check with your gynecologist. Normal cycles (and thus hormone levels) also help to protect bone. Don`t smoke. Get some weight-bearing exercise that is appropriate for your condition. If you have not had any fractures and the osteoporosis is not severe, you may be able to follow your bone density studies for stability until you have had your children. Since I do not know your entire medical history nor have I done a physical exam, all of this discussion of options should be reviewed with your physician. A consultation with an osteoporosis expert in your community explaining your concerns could be of help to you.
Margery Gass, MD
Formely, Professor, Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati