If you were still having periods (menstruating) before your surgery and both ovaries are removed, you will have what is known as a surgical menopause. You will no longer produce the same levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone and your periods will stop immediately. Instead of a gradual transition that usually happens with age, you may experience a sudden change. Chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment can also result in early menopause.
Many women find this a huge shock, treatment related menopause results in feelings of loss and grief: loss of control, loss of choices about having a family, and loss of part of your identity as a woman. . The decrease in hormones can result in symptoms such as hot flushes and vaginal dryness, as well as health risks such as an increased risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. Seek out information and support as soon as possible.
What can help?
There are many self-help techniques, lifestyle changes and medicines (Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and non-hormonal) that can help relieve the symptoms. Not every woman can have HRT after treatment for ovarian cancer. Your treating doctor can give you more information. It’s really important to work through your feelings. Try to relieve your stress in ways you know used to help you. This may involve writing in a journal, drawing, listening to music, walking or doing yoga. Always ask for professional help if your feelings of loss, depression and anxiety continue beyond 2 weeks.
Early menopause from ovarian cancer treatment factsheet
- Click here to read our factsheet, ‘Early menopause from ovarian cancer treatment.’
- Australasian Menopause Society, has a wealth of information on menopause – You can also search for doctors that specialise in menopause.
- Jean Hailes Foundation is a national not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of Australian women.