Menopause Management During Breast Cancer Treatment
You’re not imagining it… according to menopause expert and Johns Hopkins Gynecologist, Dr. Wen Shen, hot flashes as a result of treatment for breast cancer have been found to be generally much more severe than those from spontaneous menopause.
What are the alternatives when you’re not a candidate for menopause hormone therapy?
Women's Wellness and Healthy Aging Program
Fortunately there are non-hormonal medical treatments as well as lifestyle/integrated medicine strategies to help minimize these symptoms:
For medical treatments you can ask your provider if you clinically qualify for any of the following medications:
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors – Effexor is understood to be safe for women who have had breast cancer even if you are taking Tamoxifen
- Clonidine – less experience
- Relatively new in this use: oxybutynin which is a bladder control medication
Life Style changes can help decrease the frequency and feeling of hot flashes and improve your overall health:
- Maintaining a healthy weight (BMI <25)
- Getting regular exercise
- Practicing relaxation techniques
Maintaining a low core body temperature can be helpful in decreasing the frequency of symptoms. Common triggers can include:
- Hot spices
- Hot rooms
- Hot baths
Additional recommended non-hormonal treatments to mitigate the feelings of hot flashes include:
- Cognitive behavior therapy
- Clinical hypnosis
Weight loss and mindfulness based stress reduction are recommended with caution. There is currently a lack of evidence to support their effectiveness for hot flashes, but these practices can be an effective way to help improve your overall health.
Studies have also found that acupuncture in association with enhanced self-care is an effective integrative intervention for managing hot flashes and improving the quality of life in women with breast cancer.