I’ve had breast cancer, what are my options?

I’ve had breast cancer, what are my options?

When you’ve been through the emotional and uncertain time of having breast cancer and treatments, it’s very important that your menopause is addressed and cared for in the best possible way. Some women feel they do not receive adequate information about their options for improving menopause symptoms and are simply told that HRT is not possible now or in the future.

Some medications to treat breast cancer, such as aromatase inhibitors, profoundly suppress your own oestrogen and cause unwanted symptoms that can significantly affect your quality of life. Menopause can be triggered by such medications, or by chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and this may be permanent or temporary depending on your age and type of treatment you’ve had.

You may suffer with more severe symptoms if you’ve had breast cancer, but at the time, your energies will be focussed on cancer treatments and surviving. It is often afterwards when you’re hoping to feel better that you realise there are enduring symptoms due to low oestrogen that are troubling you.

So what are your options?

  1. Talk about how you feel with family, friends, and your breast cancer care team; you don’t need to feel that you can’t speak up about menopause symptoms. Your quality of life is very important.
  2. Document your symptoms, especially to show a healthcare professional when you go to seek help for your menopause. Take a look at our menopause symptom checker and use this, if helpful.
  3. Do your own research and seek out helpful resources. The charity, Breast Cancer Now, has a useful range of booklets and information.
  4. Try and lead a healthy lifestyle with regular physical activity, menopause-friendly nutrition, reduce your alcohol intake and stop smoking, do all you can to have good quality sleep and manage stress levels.
  5. Look after your genitourinary health see our information on caring for your vagina and vulva here and reducing infections here.