Managing the Side Effects of Hormonal Therapy

Many women suffer from menopausal symptoms when taking hormone therapy. What you can do about it.

Hot flashes, night sweats, aches, pains and mood swings. Breast cancer hormone therapy can result in menopausal side effects like these. Here are some tips for managing them and improving your quality of life.

Around 75 percent of breast cancer tumors are stimulated by female sex hormones – mainly by estrogen, but sometimes by progestogens too. Hormone-dependent cancers are therefore usually treated with anti-hormones. Depending on the medications prescribed, they either block the effects of these sex hormones or prevent the ovaries from producing them.

The problem is that there are breast cancer hormone therapy side-effects. Many women transition into menopause almost overnight, with all its accompanying symptoms, including hot flashes, joint pain, dry mucous membranes and mood swings. It can even cause menopause symptoms to return in older women. Although the side effects of hormone therapy cannot be eliminated, there are things you can do to better cope better with menopausal symptoms.


What you can do about common menopausal symptoms

Hot flashes

Hot flashes and night sweats are among the most common side effects of hormone therapy after breast cancer. These can vary from happening a few times a day to several times an hour. Some women feel mild heat in the face while others experience palpitations and drenching sweat all over the body. They happen because our heat center in the brain depends on estrogen. When our estrogen level drops, the nervous system causes the blood vessels in the skin to expand. As a result, the skin is supplied with more blood, and the body releases excess heat to the outside. These episodes are known as hot flashes. The sweat then cools the skin, causing the body temperature to drop.

 Things that can help:

Things to keep in mind


Muscle and joint pain

A lower level of estrogen in the body can affect how minerals are absorbed. It can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis and weaker bones. Side effects such as aches and pains in muscles and joints can accompany this.

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Vitamin D3 is needed to absorb the calcium from the food. Your body makes vitamin D3 from sunlight. It can also be found in foods such as oily fish and egg yolks.

Things to keep in mind:


Vaginal Dryness

Among other things, estrogen ensures that the mucous membrane of the vagina is well supplied with blood and becomes moist with sexual arousal. If the production of the hormone is stopped or blocked, it can cause vaginal dryness and irritation. This makes sexual intercourse uncomfortable and increases the risk of infections.

Things that can help:

Things to keep in mind:


Mood Swings

Mood swings are common breast cancer hormone treatment side-effects. We do not know exactly how estrogen deficiency causes them. But the guess is that it disturbs a part of the brain, the limbic system, which is responsible for processing our emotions. This can result in emotional peaks, low moods, and, for some women, depression.

Things that can help:

Things to keep in mind:


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