Menopause Caused by Cancer Treatment
Menopause is when your menstrual cycles (periods) end. This happens when your ovaries make lower levels of estrogen (sex hormones that help develop and maintain female reproductive health) or are removed.
Some cancer treatments can cause menopause. These include:
- Surgery to remove your ovaries.
- Radiation therapy.
- Hormonal therapy.
- Bone marrow/stem cell transplant.
Menopause caused by some cancer treatments can be temporary or permanent. It is hard to know if yours will be temporary or permanent, but your provider may be able to tell you what you can expect.
What symptoms can I expect from early menopause?
Symptoms of early menopause caused by cancer treatment can be more severe than when menopause happens naturally. Symptoms include:
- Hot flashes (a sudden warm feeling with blushing).
- Night sweats.
- Mood swings.
- Vaginal dryness.
- Decrease in sexual desire (libido).
- Forgetfulness (lack of memory).
- Trouble sleeping.
If you have any of these symptoms, talk with your care team. There are treatments that can help reduce the symptoms. Some of these treatments include hormones and some do not. Replacing estrogen or other hormones may not be safe for you, talk with your care team if you are thinking about hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
How can I manage the symptoms?
Self-care actions can help reduce the symptoms of menopause. To reduce the side effects:
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, tight clothing, and cigarette smoke.
- Exercise daily.
- Lower stress as much as possible.
- Keep your mind active.
- Stay cool - keep your bedroom cool at night, use fans, and wear light clothing in layers.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Use a water-based lubricant with sexual activity.
Talk with your care team before taking any medications, supplements, or herbs, as these may affect your hormone levels and interfere with your treatment.
When should I call my care team?
If symptoms are affecting your life and the self-care actions are not helping, speak to your provider. Your provider may be able to give you medication that can help.
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