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Mature Women's Centre Victoria General Hospital

Treatment Induced Menopause

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Keeping Healthy
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Nutrition
Eating well following your surgery will not only promote healing, but also minimize menopausal symptoms. Following Canada’s Food Guide will help reduce your risk of heart disease and osteoporosis in later years. The following guidelines, adapted from Canada’s Food Guide, may help you to make healthy food choices:

  1. Eat a variety of foods
  2. Choose a wide range of cereals, grain products, fruit and vegetables
  3. Choose low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and foods prepared with less fat
  4. Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
  5. Limit caffeine, salt, and alcohol
  6. Take a daily Vitamin D supplement of 400 IU if you are over the age of 50

Canada’s Food Guide provides specific guidelines based on age. Log on to www.healthcanada.gc.ca/foodguide to find out the recommendations for you

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Exercise
Regular physical activity will not only reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, but will also contribute to emotional well being. Thirty minutes of brisk walking, swimming, cycling, or dancing a minimum of three times a week will help maintain joint flexibility, and muscle strength. Regular physical activity will also help provide a good night’s sleep.

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Sexuality
A woman’s sexuality is complex, involving physical, social, and emotional responses. Treatment induced menopause may interfere with your sexual desire and/or response. Hot flashes, decreased vaginal lubrication, or loss of bladder control can leave a woman to question her sexual attractiveness, and desirability. These changes may occur in women of all ages who undergo treatment induced menopause.

Using lubrication, changing position and a caring and sensitive partner may help to alleviate pain during sexual play. Understanding the source of the problem will help resolve many sexual difficulties. It is important that you feel comfortable with your own sexuality, and if necessary discuss any concerns with a trained medical professional. You may find the reading list helpful at the end of this section.

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Breast Health
As the most common form of cancer in women, breast cancer creates great anxiety and is a significant women’s health issue. The relationship of estrogen to breast cancer has been studied for more than 50 years. Current studies suggest a small increased risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer when using combined hormone replacement therapy for more than 5 years in postmenopausal women. For women with treatment induced menopause there is no evidence suggesting an increased risk of breast cancer with the use of hormone replacement therapy until the age of natural menopause.

Women who have a family history of breast cancer may be at an increased risk of developing breast cancer but the risk is not further increased with short term hormone replacement therapy. Family history alone is not the only risk factor to breast cancer. Other risk factors include advancing age, obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption, and delayed first pregnancy.

To maximize breast cancer treatment options, early detection is necessary. Mammography can detect breast tumours smaller than those found during a breast self exam. Unfortunately, many women rely on these tests and do not examine their own breasts. It is important to learn the correct technique, and to practice breast self-exam regularly. Ask your health care provider whether you are doing the exam correctly. You may also contact your local breast screening program to learn self-breast examination. Make your breast examinations part of a monthly routine.

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Stress Reduction
Caring for aging parents, job insecurity, financial problems, children moving away from home, etc, can also affect one’s ability to adjust to the physical and emotional changes of menopause. Sandwiched between the responsibilities of family and home, women are often busy taking care of everyone else’s needs. Sadly, you may feel guilty, or forget, to take time for yourself. Developing a strong social support system, and using it, will help to balance your personal stressors. Taking time out for yourself, using relaxation techniques such as meditation, or keeping physically active, are all useful ways of reducing stress.

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Cigarette Smoking
Today, more women die from lung cancer than breast cancer. Smoking not only contributes to lung and heart disease, but also increases your risk of osteoporosis. Young women who smoke and have had an early menopause (natural or treatment induced) are particularly vulnerable to these diseases. To stop smoking, regardless of your age, is an important lifestyle decision, but one you should make. If you are interested in a smoking cessation program, contact your local lung association for a program in your area.

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