At some point in every woman's life, her hormone production drops below the level required to continue her periods. Some women welcome the end to monthly bleeding, bloating, and inconvenience. But others find that menopause:
- affects their sex life
- triggers mood swings
- causes debilitating hot flashes
- can take them down the road to bone and heart problems
Menopause that happens suddenly because of breast cancer treatment can cause uncomfortable and extremely upsetting side effects, including affecting your ability to have children, sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently. All of which can be stressfull and upsetting.
There are different kinds of menopause. If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, it's important to understand which kind of menopause you may be experiencing:
- natural menopause, a normal part of the aging process
- medical or surgical menopause that is the result of chemotherapy or ovary removal
- "cold turkey" menopause from being taken off hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after you were diagnosed with breast cancer
The good news is that there are ways to manage symptoms and live more comfortably with menopause.
You can do many things to help ease your way through menopause. Lifestyle modifications (diet, exercise, smoking cessation, attitude) may be just as important and effective as medications in helping you feel better and live longer.
Adapted from: Living Beyond Breast Cancer by Marisa C. Weiss, M.D. and Ellen Weiss
- Michelle Battastini, M.D., obstetrician/gynecologist, University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, PA
- Sharon Youcha, M.D., obstetrician/gynecologist, Thomas Jefferson University Health System, Philadelphia, PA