The Menopause Clinic
Menopause is never easy. But if you’ve had cancer, now or in the past, or are at increased risk for cancer, you may have even more difficulty with menopausal symptoms than some other women. Certain treatments, such as chemotherapy, hormone treatment, and surgery, can put you into early menopause. Women who get their periods back after treatment may still end up in early menopause. And women who finished with menopause prior to diagnosis may experience menopausal symptoms again after breast cancer treatment.
At the Menopause Clinic at the Comprehensive Women’s Cancer Program at The Blavatnik Family- Chelsea Medical Center, we can help. Led by Elissa Gretz Friedman, MD, our experts can guide you to improve your quality of life. We work with you to:
- Create a plan to manage your symptoms
- Offer information about normal physiologic changes
- Recommend screening for disease and reducing risk
You are considered menopausal when you haven’t had a period in 12 months. This means you run out of the eggs you were born with, and your ovaries stop producing hormones (estrogen and progesterone). You can also be menopausal after an oophorectomy, a surgery that removes the ovaries.
Menopause causes a number of symptoms. Hot flashes are probably the best known. They may cause you to feel uncomfortably warm for two to four minutes, often followed by sweating. Hot flashes can happen at any time during the day or night, and you may have several during a 24-hour period. If you have a hot flash while you’re asleep, it might startle you awake.
Other common symptoms of menopause include anxiety, heart palpitations, and vaginal dryness, which can cause pain during sexual intercourse. Some women find they have difficulty learning new tasks, become forgetful, or experience brain fog. You may also find it difficult to sleep. Sometimes, these symptoms worsen as time goes on.
Fortunately, the Menopause Clinic at The Blavatnik Family – Chelsea Medical Center can help.
Treatments We Offer
Our menopause specialists have special training to address this condition. They are certified through examination by the North American Menopause Society and stay up to date on the newest research about women’s health at midlife.
Our menopause specialists start by performing an initial consult. We ask about your medical history, family history, and genetic history. We can have this conversation before you begin cancer treatment or at any point after that. We will then develop an individualized plan just for you.
We may start recommending lifestyle changes. These can include:
- Dietary changes, such as avoiding caffeine, spicy foods, and alcohol
- Drinking ice water
- Dressing in layers
- Keeping your home cool
- Losing weight
- Smoking cessation
- Vaginal lubricants and moisturizers
You may find that certain things trigger your hot flashes. Triggers vary from woman to woman and can include alcohol, hot or spicy drinks, or even stress.
We may recommend medical therapies. Over-the-counter therapies include evening primrose, black cohosh, and acupuncture. If you need something stronger, we may prescribe medications such as hormone replacement therapy, mood stabilizers, and sleep assistants. Hormone replacement therapy involves taking medication that contains estrogen, the female hormone your body stops producing during menopause.
Once you reach menopause, we will monitor you for side effects. These can include osteoporosis, a disease that leaves your bones more brittle and fragile. It makes your bones more likely to break from a fall or sometimes even a minor bump. Osteoporosis is more common among post-menopausal women.