Ovarian Cancer

Menopause

Premenopausal women who have both ovaries removed as treatment for ovarian cancer are likely to enter the menopause soon after surgery. The most common symptom they had was hot flushes, which could be mild or brief 'tropical moments' but for some were dramatic and debilitating, and when they occurred at night disturbed sleep. Some women mentioned mood changes, one mentioned weight gain and another vaginal dryness and a tiredness that occurred at the same time each month. Some women wondered if their menopausal symptoms were particularly bad because they had been artificially induced.

Women whose menopause started during chemotherapy found it difficult to distinguish between symptoms of the menopause and side effects of the treatment. One woman's menopause didn't start until a year after her surgery and several others experienced no symptoms at all. Some women were glad that their periods had finished, but one missed them because her life had revolved around them for so many years.

Younger women whose menopause started as a result of surgery were often offered hormone replacement therapy (HRT) because the potential health benefits were considered to outweigh the risks. HRT succeeded in preventing or relieving menopausal symptoms in most of the women who took it, but a few experienced unpleasant side effects and changed to a different type of HRT. One stopped taking it because it didn't seem to be working and two others stopped because they did not want to increase their risk of getting breast cancer.

Most women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will have already been through, or started, the menopause. Older women who had been taking HRT for menopausal symptoms before their diagnosis were often taken off it because it increases the risk of developing breast cancer, and in some the menopausal symptoms returned. A few older women continued to take HRT after their diagnosis because of severe menopausal symptoms or to reduce symptoms of osteoporosis.

Women who could not, or chose not to take HRT often tried to relieve their menopausal symptoms with complementary therapies, such as evening primrose oil, sage, vitamins and food supplements. As well as using a herbal remedy one woman tried to reduce the severity of her hot flushes by consuming cooling foods and drinks. 

For more experience of the menopause see our 'Menopause' website.

Last reviewed June 2016.

Last updated June 2016.

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