Early menopause and symptoms

Some treatments for breast cancer can affect the way the ovaries work. As a result, you may start your menopause earlier than expected, or have menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes, vaginal dryness and urinary problems, due to the treatment itself.

The menopause happens because the ovaries stop producing the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. This usually happens sometime between the mid-40s and mid-50s.

Women who have had chemotherapy close to the age of natural menopause (around 50) may go into the menopause quickly. Younger women in their 30s may find that their periods stop for a while and then come back again. However, they may have an earlier menopause than usual.

Hormonal therapy drugs, such as tamoxifen, anastrozole, letrozole and exemestane, may have side effects that are similar to menopausal symptoms.

Occasionally, breast cancer treatment may involve an operation to remove the ovaries. This will cause a permanent menopause.

Managing menopausal symptoms

Coping with an early menopause or menopausal symptoms when you’re already dealing with cancer can be very difficult. But there are several things that may help to reduce the symptoms.

We have more detailed information about breast cancer and menopausal symptoms.