Sexual side effects of medical menopause?


Question from Deborah: I am 45, currently on tamoxifen, and still premenopausal. My oncologist's plan is to put me into menopause after 5 years on tamoxifen and switch me to an aromatase inhibitor. This makes sense to me, but I am terrified of the side effects, particularly the sexual side effects. My husband and I have a good sex life and I really don't want to lose that. Is there hope?
Answers - Kara Nakisbendi I think women have this concern whether they have had a mastectomy or contracted an STD, and they worry about how their partners will view them. What it comes down to is exactly what Dr. Schover says about who you're choosing to be with and your criteria. Nothing is guaranteed in your partner, who knows what issues they have to face. It's all about finding someone accepting. I assume you'll be put in menopause with a medication like lupron, which will create the menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and insomnia. Those symptoms can be treated with medications. As far as vaginally, you can treat locally if lubricants don't work and your doctor is comfortable with that. There are lots of ways of managing the symptoms.
Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D. And often the combination of a vaginal moisturizer that you use several times a week, plus either a water-based or silicone-based lubricant when you're actually going to have sex, will help restore some moisture and help the couple's sex life.

Editor’s note: Recommended vaginal lubricants include Astroglide, Today Personal, Ortho Gyne-Moistrin, Moist Again, Replens, Probe, and K-Y Jelly.

On Wednesday, February 20, 2008, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Sex, Intimacy, and Breast Cancer. Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D. and Kara Nakisbendi, M.D. answered your questions about sexual side effects of breast cancer and breast cancer treatment, and what you can do about them.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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