Yes, I’m talking about breast cancer treatment and sexual health because NO ONE talked to me about it. No one talked about the sexual health side effects of taking an ovarian supression and aromatase anhibitor (letrozole). Yes, they may have mentioned it as “oh these are common side effects,” but no one took more than 30 seconds to explain anything to me.
So, I finally met with a urogynecologist which I didn’t even know existed and we talked all things sexual health post breast cancer treatment.
WHATS A UROYGNECOLOGIST
The urogynecology experts offer highly skilled, compassionate care for women who suffer from urinary and pelvic floor disorders.
Our board-certified pelvic health specialists are trained in all aspects of female pelvic medicine and reconstructive pelvic floor surgery.
We use the latest diagnosis and treatment methods, and we’ll work closely with you to develop a custom treatment plan to restore your quality of life.
The following explanation about ovarian suppression is from BreastCancer Now and helps all the in’s and out’s of being on one.
What Is an Ovarian Suppression
Ovarian suppression describes treatments that stop the ovaries from making estrogen, either permanently or temporarily.
You might hear different terms for ovarian suppression such as ovarian function suppression and ovarian ablation.
Ovarian suppression is used:
- As part of treatment for breast cancer in premenopausal women (women who have not yet reached the menopause)
- To try to preserve fertility during chemotherapy
How does ovarian suppression work as a treatment for breast cancer?
Some breast cancers use oestrogen in the body to help them grow. These are known as oestrogen-receptor positive or ER+ breast cancers.
Before the menopause, oestrogen is mainly produced by the ovaries.
If the ovaries are removed, or if they are stopped from working, there’s less oestrogen in the body to help the cancer to grow. This is ovarian suppression.
Small amounts of oestrogen will still be produced by fat cells.
Side effects of ovarian suppression
Everyone reacts differently to drugs and treatments and some women have more side effects than others.
If ovarian suppression is given in addition to chemotherapy or other hormone therapies, it’s sometimes difficult to know which side effects are being caused by which treatment.
It’s important to talk with your treatment team about any side effects you’re having and how best to manage them, whether or not they are listed here.
Menopausal symptoms are common, including:
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood changes
- A decrease in sex drive
Ovarian suppression achieved by hormone therapy or surgery is more likely to cause menopausal symptoms than a natural menopause.
Menopausal symptoms, especially if sudden or intense, can affect your confidence and may have an impact on both you and your partner.