“Menopause After Cancer is a totally different ball game”
Although the menopause conversation, particularly in the UK, has boomed over the last few years, women with a history of cancer have felt very much excluded from it all. I could not help but think “What about us? What about women with a history of cancer who also struggle with the menopause? What are our treatment options?”
In one of our recent surveys in collaboration with University College London Hospital we found that:
- 90.4% of the women surveyed entered menopause as a direct result of their cancer treatment.
- 77% said that they received no or inadequate help in managing their menopausal symptoms.
- A staggering 92% feel isolated in their experiences.
Here are some key reasons menopause after cancer is so different:
You have sudden and severe menopause symptoms
Going through menopause due to cancer treatment often means it happens very suddenly and symptoms can be more severe. Us cancer survivors don’t get the gradual hormone changes that cause perimenopausal symptoms over the course of a few years – it’s more that our bodies have quit hormones cold turkey, plunging us into menopause suddenly and intensely. And it can be very scary sitting at home on your own after cancer treatment’s finished, wondering whether these symptoms are down to menopause, side effects of treatment or even cancer itself.
You may have to cope with fertility loss
If you’re under 45 and still having periods, cancer treatment can bring on an early menopause – so you end up going through it long before 51, the average age a woman’s periods stop. This leaves you having to cope with the premature loss of your fertility after gruelling cancer treatment, which can be especially painful if you wanted children and haven’t had them. Even if you don’t want children or you’ve completed your family, losing your fertility early can still be very confronting.
You have to come off your HRT
Perhaps you’d already been through menopause and were coasting along quite happily on HRT. But then you got the cancer diagnosis and had to stop it abruptly, so you’re suddenly dealing with symptoms you were managing well before.
“My rage turned into a roar”
After setting up a Facebook group where I invited in cancer survivors to talk about the menopause, I realised that thousands of women feel totally under-supported not knowing what their options are. And so in my quest to help more people with a history of cancer have a better menopause experience I have founded the not-for-profit Menopause And Cancer. We offer a range of accessible, practical support and services which bridge the information gap and create a sense of community and belonging.
Head over for more info: www.menopauseandcancer.org.
Here are my top 3 tips to get you started for a more educated menopause after cancer experience:
1. Listen to the Menopause And Cancer Podcast
Tune into my and the world’s only the Menopause and Cancer podcast to listen to experts who have an in depth understanding of menopause and cancer. Did you know we get over 20k downloads a month?
2. Connect with others
Join the Menopause and Cancer Chat hub Facebook community to meet with others with shared experience. Join the group here.
3. Stay in the loop
Sign up to our newsletter so we can keep you posted on our upcoming workshops, meet-ups and events. Sign up here.