Breast cancer treatment and menopausal symptoms
Some treatments can cause an early or temporary menopause. Hormonal therapies can cause side effects that are the same as menopausal symptoms.
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Doctors don’t recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT) because it contains oestrogen, which could encourage breast cancer cells to grow. If a woman’s menopausal symptoms are severe and nothing else has helped, some doctors may occasionally prescribe HRT. Women need to talk this over with their doctor so they are aware of the possible risks.
There are different ways in which menopausal symptoms can be treated.
Low doses of antidepressants, such as paroxetine and fluoxetine, help to reduce flushes. Doctors don’t prescribe these if you’re taking tamoxifen, as they can interfere with how it works.
They can prescribe other antidepressants called citalopram or venlafaxine instead. Yoga and other breathing methods can also help with hot flushes.
Non-hormonal creams and water-based lubricants can help to reduce dryness and any discomfort during sex.
These can include mood swings, feeling anxious, and problems with concentration and memory. Talking about how you feel with your doctor, nurse, family or friends can help. Some women find it helps to talk things through with a counsellor.
Early menopause can increase the risk of bone thinning (osteoporosis). Our section about looking after your bones has helpful tips on keeping them healthy.
A number of organisations, including The Daisy Network, provide support to women going through the menopause.