It is natural for women beyond the age of 50 to experience symptoms of menopause. Menopause is the result of a decrease in the female hormone, estrogen, among others. The most commonly reported symptoms are hot flashes and irritability. These symptoms are often treated with pharmaceutical medications such as supplemental estrogen and progesterone or anti-depressants. Today, women have many more options available for relieving symptoms.
Since estrogen is the hormone that promotes growth of the cells within the breast, it is generally not recommended to use estrogen to treat menopause symptoms after breast cancer. Considerable advances in the treatment of breast cancer have resulted in increased survival. It is imperative that the treating oncology team have an understanding of the impact of treatment on quality of life. Unfortunately, some of the side effects of breast cancer treatments can result in premature (early) menopause. This can be debilitating for any woman but particularly for younger women. Common, but lesser known symptoms include sexual dissatisfaction and painful intercourse, a result of vaginal dryness. Another distressing symptom is mild to moderate stress urinary incontinence which may have a significant impact on the quality of life after treatment.
Studies have shown that the risk of premature menopause varies depending on the chemotherapy regimen used, as well as, the age of the woman at the time of treatment. The actual incidence of these symptoms are poorly understood as many women do not report symptoms to their doctors. It is important to encourage women to speak with their physician about their symptoms and how best to improve quality of life.
Centre for Personal Renewal works with their clients to develop a plan to address these symptoms. For additional information regarding currently available non-hormonal interventions please contact Centre for Personal Renewal by clicking the button below.