• Polski
  • OncoMeno

    Who turned the lights off?

    What is menopause?

    Breast cancer treatments in women of reproductive age often lead to menopause. It is called premature because it starts before the natural physiological one. Most women enter it when they are around 51 or 52. Ovarian failure after cancer treatments is sudden, and the body has no time to prepare for it. Oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone stop being produced literally overnight and ovulation stops. That’s why for the women’s body it is comparable to unexpectedly turning the lights off. The disorientation is complete.

    In case of breast cancer treatments ovarian failure results from:

    • ovary damage during chemotherapy
    • medication causing ovarian shutdown (gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues)
    • preventive ovary removal
    • additional hormonal treatment with tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors

    Did you know that…?

    • 90% of premenopausal women who undergo chemotherapy stop having their period within a year
    • One in two women treated for breast cancer enters menopause, and 60% enter it before they are 45
    • Women who entered menopause before they were 45 are at a higher risk of a cardiovascular diseases and of death from a cardiovascular disease

    What is wrong with me?

    Unfortunately, menopause has unpleasant and severe effects. The body isn’t the only one suffering. Menopause also has a huge impact on the mood, mental health and cognitive functions.

    Physical effects of menopause:

    • hot flashes
    • loss of libido
    • vaginal dryness,
    • muscle mass loss
    • joint and muscle pain
    • weight gain

    Emotional effects of menopause:

    • depression
    • cognitive dysfunctions, i.e. deterioration of concentration and memory
    • visuospatial deficits e.g. problems with parallel parking, counting, memorising
    • problems with achieving goals, coping with stress, driving.

    How to cope?

    Talk to your physician to find a treatment meeting the patient’s needs.

    • SSRI and SNRIs antidepressants are effective, however the dosage should be the lowest possible and they should be taken with moderation. Antidepressants have serious side effects, including dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and libido loss.
    • The physician may also recommend gabapentins or pregabalins, which relieve anxiety.

    Additionally, it is worth to:

    • stop drinking coffee and alcohol as they increase hot flashes
    • take up any kind of physical activity, maybe try yoga
    • undergo acupuncture
    • meditate

    Read also: