Effects of hormonal therapy on women

Hormonal therapy and sexuality

Some cancers are influenced by hormones naturally produced in the body, so hormonal therapy is given to change the hormone levels. The hormones most commonly affected by cancer or its treatments are the sex hormones:

  • Oestrogen.
  • Progesterone.
  • Testosterone.

Some hormonal therapy drugs are given as tablets, and some are given as injections.

Tamoxifen and anastrozole (Arimidex ®)

Tamoxifen and Arimidex are commonly used hormonal therapy drugs, which are often given as part of the treatment for breast cancer. They can cause side effects similar to menopausal symptoms. Menopausal symptoms include:

  • hot flushes
  • dry skin
  • dryness or soreness of the vagina
  • vaginal discharge
  • feeling low
  • anxiety
  • being less interested in sex.

If you’re having tamoxifen or Arimidex, you may get some of these side effects, very few of them or none at all.

Other hormonal therapies

There are many other hormonal therapies, and these often cause side effects that may affect your sex drive, such as tiredness or vaginal dryness.

A drug called goserelin (Zoladex®) is sometimes given to women who haven’t had their menopause yet. Zoladex reduces the amount of sex hormones produced by the ovaries, so your periods stop and you will have menopausal symptoms while taking it. Zoladex can also reduce your sex drive. Usually Zoladex is taken for two years and, once you stop taking it, your sex drive gradually returns to normal. The other side effects will also disappear.

Back to Effects of treatment on a woman's sexuality

The female body and sex

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