How to Manage Menopause Symptoms After Breast Cancer
Learn about what causes menopause symptoms after breast cancer treatment and how you can find relief

Breast cancer treatment can cause menopause symptoms due to the way certain therapies affect the ovaries. Studies have shown that 25% of women who develop breast cancer are not postmenopausal, which indicates that cancer therapy may lead patients to enter menopause sooner than they would have otherwise.

Learn about what causes menopause symptoms after breast cancer treatment and how you can find relief.

What breast cancer treatments can cause menopause symptoms?

Cancer therapies that can cause menopausal symptoms include:

  • Chemotherapy and pelvic radiation, which can cause concomitant ovarian damage
  • Surgeries performed for breast cancer metastasis in the liver, which can affect the eggs and fallopian tubes
  • Hormone medications used to treat breast cancer following surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy, such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors

Treatments may trigger temporary menopause symptoms that eventually subside eventually, although surgery often leads to permanent symptoms.

7 ways to manage menopause symptoms after breast cancer

1. Diet

Eating a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables can help you cope with menopause symptoms such as fatigue and moodiness. Foods and supplements that contain soy, red clover, and black cohosh have phytoestrogens, which are estrogen-like compounds that may help alleviate menopausal symptoms.

2. Exercise 

Engaging in regular physical activity for at least 30 minutes each day can help reduce stress, boost mood, and help you better manage menopause symptoms. 

3. Supplements

During and after menopause, it is crucial to get adequate calcium and vitamin D to counteract the loss of bone density. If you have entered menopause, you should consume at least 1,000 mg of calcium per day. If you are over 70, you should take 1,300 mg per day.

4. Medications for hot flashes

Medications that do not have any hormone properties that can help ease menopause symptoms such as hot flashes include:

5. Treatment for vaginal dryness

There are several non-hormonal therapies that can help alleviate vaginal dryness, including vaginal moisturizers, lubricants, and gels. If they do not work, low-dose hormonal rings, pills, capsules, or lotions applied directly to the vagina may work. 

Devices that use lasers or other types of energy to rejuvenate vaginal tissue are currently being studied, but it is unclear how beneficial they may be. Before choosing these therapies, you should discuss the potential risks with your doctor.

6. Relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy, or yoga can be beneficial in helping with mood swings related to menopause.

7. Sleep hygiene

Many women have trouble sleeping during menopause for a variety of reasons, including hot flashes, nocturnal sweats, and anxiety. Avoiding alcohol, caffeinated beverages, and late-night snacks can help with sleep disruption.

QUESTION

If menopause occurs in a woman younger than ___ years, it is considered to be premature. See Answer

What are common menopause symptoms?

When menopause occurs unexpectedly as a result of cancer therapy, symptoms may be worse. Menopause symptoms range from moderate to severe and may include:

Can breast cancer treatment lead to infertility?

If you are of reproductive age and on medical treatment for breast cancer, you may experience symptoms similar to those of a premenopausal period. This is because cancer treatment may cause the following:

  • Reduced egg quantity
  • Reduced egg quality
  • Altered pituitary gland function and reduced hormone release
  • Changes to the womb, cervix, and other parts of the reproductive system

Receiving breast cancer treatment does not mean that you have become infertile, however. You can choose to freeze your eggs and undergo other treatments to ensure that you can have a child after cancer treatment is complete. However, doctors recommend waiting 6 months to 5 years before trying to get pregnant so that your body has time to get rid of the toxic metabolites that may have accumulated during treatment.

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Medically Reviewed on 7/7/2022
References
Image Source: iStock image

7 things to know about menopause and breast cancer: https://www.mdanderson.org/cancerwise/7-things-to-know-about-menopause-and-breast-cancer.h00-159306990.html

Menopausal Hormone Therapy After Breast Cancer: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/living-as-a-breast-cancer-survivor/menopausal-hormone-therapy-after-breast-cancer.html