Women's Health Matters

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Other Medications

The following medications are not approved for the treatment of osteoporosis, but may be prescribed in specific circumstances.

Calcitriol (vitamin D metabolite)
Calcitriol (Rocaltrol®) is the "active" form of vitamin D, which helps the intestines absorb calcium. Vitamin D obtained from the sun, or from food or supplements must be "changed" or metabolized by the body (i.e. by the liver and kidneys) into this "active" form.

Calcitriol may be prescribed for individuals whose metabolism of vitamin D is disrupted, for example, by kidney disease. When calcitriol is taken with calcium, it reduces bone loss. If your doctor prescribes calcitriol, he or she may monitor the levels of calcium and vitamin D in your blood and urine. Side-effects tend to be mild and affect approximately 10 per cent of patients. The most common side-effect is hypercalcemia, or too much calcium in the blood.

Low-dose oral contraceptive – the pill
A low-dose oral contraceptive may be recommended for young women who have low bone density and women over 35 who are in the transitional period leading up to menopause.

Women may lose up to 10 per cent of their bone mass in the five to 10 years leading up to menopause due to a gradual decrease in estrogen levels as the ovaries slowly shut down. Studies suggest that low-dose oral contraceptives may stabilize or even increase women’s bone mass.

Testosterone replacement (in the form of injections or pills) may be prescribed to men diagnosed with osteoporosis.

Testosterone is the major male sex hormone and it plays a role in bone formation. Studies show that, just as estrogen deficiency is linked to bone loss in women, a decrease in testosterone may be linked to bone loss in men.


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Bisphosphonates (BPs)

Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs)

Hormone therapy (HT)


Parathyroid hormone

Other medications

Monitoring treatment response

  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital