Early menopause and menopausal symptoms
Chemotherapy can affect the ovaries and bring on an early menopause. Some hormonal treatments can also cause a temporary menopause or menopausal symptoms.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) isn’t usually recommended because it contains oestrogen, which may encourage breast cancer cells to grow. Some doctors may prescribe HRT in situations where a woman’s symptoms are severe and nothing else has helped. It’s important to talk this through with your specialist doctor or nurse so that you‘re clear about the possible risks and benefits.
Low doses of antidepressants, such as paroxetine and fluoxetine, can reduce hot flushes. These aren’t prescribed if you’re taking tamoxifen as they can interfere with how it works. An antidepressant called venlafaxine can be given instead.
Non-hormonal creams and water-based lubricants can help to reduce discomfort from vaginal dryness during sex.
There are also pessaries and creams that contain a small amount of oestrogen, which may be prescribed in low doses. Many breast specialists think very little of the oestrogen in the creams and pessaries is absorbed by the body. Talk this over with your doctor first.
Menopausal symptoms can also include a lower sex drive, mood swings, lack of confidence, and a loss of concentration and memory.
Becoming infertile can be very hard for some women to live with, whether they already have children or not. Some women may find it helpful to talk through their feelings with a trained counsellor. If you need more specialised help, your doctor can arrange this for you.