Radiation induced menopause

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Aqx99
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2017 7:28 am
Location: Pfafftown, NC

Radiation induced menopause

Postby Aqx99 » Sun May 14, 2017 9:14 pm

My radiation oncologist told me she would be treating my ovaries as part of my rectal cancer treatment, and therefore I would be going through early menopause. I've started noticing the symptoms over the past week or so. I know every woman is different, but I'd like to hear from the other ladies here who have gone through it. How badly did it interfere with the rest of your treatment? Did you have all the normal symptoms or was there anything strange? I've mainly been having hot flashes and night sweats, but I have also been having crying fits that might be the menopause, or could just be the stress. Or I suppose it could be a combination of everything going on.
Female, 39
Stage IIIB Rectal Cancer
T3N1M0
Diagnosed at age 39
2/21/17 diagnosis
3/23/17 - 5/2/17 Chemoradiation, 28 treatments
6/14/17 Robotic LAR with temp loop ileostomy, ovaries removed, 2/21 lymph nodes positive
CEA at diagnosis 0.9

Soccermom2boys
Posts: 115
Joined: Tue Nov 10, 2015 10:29 pm

Re: Radiation induced menopause

Postby Soccermom2boys » Sun May 14, 2017 10:49 pm

Yes, I too was forced in to an earlier menopause. I didn't really notice the loss of the periods until about two months out. Was so hard to tell what was what when radiation was making the tumor shed as well and then having surgery seven weeks after end of radiation and stress never helps in that equation either.

As for the night sweats, I believe that is more a symptom of the cancer itself. Yes, I absolutely get hot flashes, but not the same as when I had the night sweats and truly soaked in sweat from the waist up. The hot flashes started a few months after surgery, but honestly can't remember specifically when as I went on to chemo about seven weeks after my surgery.

As for the crying fits--no doubt the hormones are playing a part, but the diagnosis of cancer absolutely adds fuel to that fire. If it helps in any way, you are so not alone in how you are feeling--I can so totally say "been there done that".

Going in to early menopause had no impact on any of my treatments or surgery, etc. Just don't have to worry about getting my period unexpectedly, gotta love that! No more worrying about having it while on vacation, gotta love that!

Hope I could be of some reassurance! :D
8/3/15 Went in with a hemorrhoid, came out with a tumor
8/12/15 Biopsy from colonoscopy confirms RC (45 yrs old--zero family history!)
9/21 - 10/29/15 chemorad 28 tx (with Xeloda)
12/17/15 APR with perm colostomy
Pathology report stages me as IIIA (T2N1M0)--1/15 LN detects cancer
2/3/16 chemo port inserted
2/8-6/2/16 8 rounds of Folfox
With these odds, how have I not won the lottery already?!

PainInTheAss
Posts: 652
Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:08 am

Re: Radiation induced menopause

Postby PainInTheAss » Sun May 14, 2017 11:57 pm

So sorry you're going through this. Not fun times, for sure.

I never had another period after I started radiation, but I never had any menopause symptoms either. I was really surprised by this. My ovaries were removed during surgery. I never felt any difference. I was surprised by this, too.

I later found out that the brain produces estrogen also. All this time I have been blaming moodiness and irritability on my cycle, and I discovered that it's just my personality!

I, too, cried a lot. Looking back, I think cancer treatment really breaks you down physically and emotionally. It's like your emotions not only have the ice cap melted, but are bubbling over. I cried about the stupidest things like not being able to find my car. I just couldn't keep a lid on them. I cried even more, all the time, post surgery. I had terrible apocalyptic dreams and would wake up every two hours in the middle of some scary scene... and cry.

Anyway, don't blame everything you're feeling on menopause. It's normal to feel emotional.
47yo single mom of 4 (24, 21, 18, 16) at Dx
6/13 - RC T4b IIIc 5LNs on PET CEA 5.4
8/13 - Finish chemorad
10/13 - APR/hyst+ovaries/perm colostomy 2/12 nodes+
6/14 - Finish Xelox 6 rds
1/15 - CT clear CEA 0.2
10/15 - CT/MRI clear CEA 0.7
4/16 - CT clear
10/16 - CT/MRI clear CEA 0.6
5/17 - PET clear? Follow up MRI to verify inflammation

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Sophy
Posts: 218
Joined: Fri May 27, 2011 2:46 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Radiation induced menopause

Postby Sophy » Mon May 15, 2017 5:20 am

My youngest child was 2 when I was diagnosed. My surgeon said he could move my ovaries up out of radiation zone but it would delay my starting treatment. I had a very short menopause, lasted about a week.

For me it was an easy decision - i already had 3 children, more than my fair share.
dx T3N1M0 Feb 11
Children age 11, 7 and 2
Xeloda/rad March 11
LAR June 11 temp ileo
Xelox 6 rounds
Lung mets Oct 13
Laser surgery Germany Jan 14. 3 mets left lung.
Laser surgery UK Jun and Aug 14 one met each lung
Aug 14 Started Xeloda and Celebrex (ADAPT) 3 year course
May 2017 CT shows still NED

Aqx99
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2017 7:28 am
Location: Pfafftown, NC

Re: Radiation induced menopause

Postby Aqx99 » Mon May 15, 2017 11:34 am

One problem I have is that I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. I never had a period on my own in my entire life. I've been on the birth control pill basically since I was 15. I stopped taking the pill at the end of my radiation treatments because I have a higher risk of blood clots, and wanted to remove the clot danger that the pill brings with it. Especially with my surgery coming up. Since the pill was just being used to stop my ovaries from maturing eggs, I figured there was no need for it now. Maybe if I am lucky my messed up ovaries will mean a short menopause.
Female, 39
Stage IIIB Rectal Cancer
T3N1M0
Diagnosed at age 39
2/21/17 diagnosis
3/23/17 - 5/2/17 Chemoradiation, 28 treatments
6/14/17 Robotic LAR with temp loop ileostomy, ovaries removed, 2/21 lymph nodes positive
CEA at diagnosis 0.9

JudeD59
Posts: 695
Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2015 12:16 pm

Re: Radiation induced menopause

Postby JudeD59 » Mon May 15, 2017 12:55 pm

Mine wasn't from the radiation. I had a total abdominal hysterectomy in 2006 for ovarian cancer so that sent me into instant menopause. I had the hot flashes pretty intensely for about a year and then they started to taper off. People think it's no big deal, just feeling warm for a couple minutes, but it's more than that. I still get one occasionally, but not often.

The sudden menopause didn't make me more weepy, but since starting treatment for this rectal cancer, I've been crying more than I ever have in my life. Not just over the cancer or feeling lousy, but just generally over-emotional about everything. I used to be pretty good at holding back tears until I was alone, but not anymore. I don't know if it's from the chemo or what, but it's definitely a noticeable change in my life.

I also had the night sweats after the hysterectomy. I would wake up and my clothes would be drenched. Although not pleasant, I tried to look at it as a good thing. I tried to imagine all the leftover anesthesia being sweated out of my body along with any other toxins, the way it would be in a sauna. There are pillows you can buy that keep your head cool at night. Some people swear by them, but they never did much for me.

Good luck and if you have any questions that I can help with, just pm me.

Judy
56 yrs old, wife, mother to 4 daughters
RC Stage II T3N0M0 DX April 2, 2015
6 cm. mid-rectum-CEA 121
Xeloda and radiation finished 06/15/15- CEA 242
CEA right before surgery 81
LAR performed 8/12/15 Temporary ileostomy
CEA 10-21-15 1.6
PET scan 11-4-15 All clear
Port installed 11/11/15
Folfox started 11/18/15
Folfox stopped due to bad reaction
Reversal 2/17/16
CEA 2/3/16 1.7
CEA 3/31/16 1.3
CT Scan 4/12/16 All Clear
Port removed 4/21/16
CEA 5/24/17 1.4

MegTayMcc
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:27 pm

Re: Radiation induced menopause

Postby MegTayMcc » Mon May 15, 2017 6:17 pm

Ahh, how I wish my radiation onc wasn't such an asshat. I didn't discover this forum until after diagnosis and treatment had started before I knew of the option to move my baby parts out of the line of fire. I remember him telling me I wouldn't be able to have anymore children and I broke down crying. I think that was the hardest part of this whole ordeal. I'm very lucky to already have 2 perfect boys who are my world, but wanted a big family all my life. Seeing pregnant people makes me sad, seeing babies makes me sad, the little huggies comerical... :cry: Hey! Maybe it's the menopause. Lol

That's another pain in the ass. Literally. It's terrible, it's like a fire is lit from the inside and the heat is stuck behind my skin. It usually happens once an hour and the worst of it at night. I never had another period after radiation started, and the hot flashes hit immediately. Only other symptom is my new found sweet tooth. Chocolate is my new best friend, along with gummies, slushes, popsicles, sugar. Geez, to think I didn't even like sweets before?!
31/wife/mom/CAN
Rectal IIb - 08/16
ChemoRad - 09/16-11/16
APR - 01/17
Complete Pathological Response
Folfox 03/17-Present

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betsydoglover
Posts: 851
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2006 2:31 pm
Facebook Username: Betsy Lindh Williams
Location: Maryland - outside DC

Re: Radiation induced menopause

Postby betsydoglover » Mon May 15, 2017 7:26 pm

I didn't have radiation/chemo induced menopause, cuz already there. BUT, whomever was concerned that night sweats were related to cancer, sweats are a very typical menopause symptom. For me it was / is the worst (I'm 67). Most of my similarly aged friends have the same issue.

Sorry you are in early menopause, but your symptoms sound normal.

Take care
Betsy
diag. Stage IV, 5/05, liver met
lap sigmoid colectomy, 6/05
6 cycles Xeloda/oxaliplatin/Avastin (NED after 2)
11/08 9x13mm right lower lobe lung nodule; removed via VATS 4/09
6 cycles Xeloda + Avastin,
NED (PET every 3 mo)
Avastin only 10/09-5/11

Lee
Posts: 4831
Joined: Sun Apr 16, 2006 4:09 pm

Re: Radiation induced menopause

Postby Lee » Mon May 15, 2017 8:09 pm

I started a period about 3 days prior to radiation, it would be totally gone within 5 days. I would not have a another period ever again. My surgeon was kind enough to take all that was left of my female parts. Long story.

I was told I would also have a radiation induced menopause, butt the truth be know, about 6 months prior to my diagnoses, I was starting a natural menopause.

All the best,

Lee
rectal cancer - April 2004
46 yrs old at diagnoses
stage III C - 6/13 lymph positive
radiation - 6 weeks
surgery - August 2004/hernia repair 2014
permanent colostomy
chemo - FOLFOX
NED - 10 years and counting!

Aqx99
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2017 7:28 am
Location: Pfafftown, NC

Re: Radiation induced menopause

Postby Aqx99 » Mon May 15, 2017 8:46 pm

I'm disappointed that I will never be able to have a child, but I understand why she wanted to treat my ovaries as well. I was a late bloomer, having gotten married at 32 (7 years ago today!) and was hoping to start a family soon, but life isn't always fair. I will admit that Mother's Day yesterday really hit me hard. It probably didn't help that I've already been so teary-eyed lately anyway.
Female, 39
Stage IIIB Rectal Cancer
T3N1M0
Diagnosed at age 39
2/21/17 diagnosis
3/23/17 - 5/2/17 Chemoradiation, 28 treatments
6/14/17 Robotic LAR with temp loop ileostomy, ovaries removed, 2/21 lymph nodes positive
CEA at diagnosis 0.9

Lee
Posts: 4831
Joined: Sun Apr 16, 2006 4:09 pm

Re: Radiation induced menopause

Postby Lee » Mon May 15, 2017 9:19 pm

Aqx99 wrote:I'm disappointed that I will never be able to have a child, . . .


As one who had 2 ADOPTED children today, believe me there are options out there. If motherhood is something you desire, do not let this disappointment be your final decision. Get beyond this struggle, than look at fostering or what we did, foster-adopt. Brother & sister no less.

Remember there are options, I've told my kids, we did not get them in the tradition method, butt make no mistake, we are the only mom & dad they know,

Lee
rectal cancer - April 2004
46 yrs old at diagnoses
stage III C - 6/13 lymph positive
radiation - 6 weeks
surgery - August 2004/hernia repair 2014
permanent colostomy
chemo - FOLFOX
NED - 10 years and counting!

weisssoccermom
Posts: 5718
Joined: Thu May 10, 2007 2:32 pm
Location: Pacific NW

Re: Radiation induced menopause

Postby weisssoccermom » Mon May 15, 2017 11:40 pm

Like you, I was told that I would go through radiation induced menopause, HOWEVER, not at all the case with me. I was all excited for the whole idea of no more horrible, heavy periods...nothing could have been better, IMO. What I did get was many more months of HEAVIER periods, excruciating cramps and all around awful feelings. Eventually, since I was close to 50, I did go into menopause ...or at least I thought I did. My doc put my on YAZ to try and mitigate the period problems but, that drug, in combination with Xeloda and just having cancer....gave me over a dozen blood clots. Don't get me started on that one! I would say it was about 9 months or so (give or take) after the blood clot debacle that I thought I had entered menopause....defined as no periods for one full year. Hooray......but then, dang, it was like someone had opened the floodgates and I had an absolutely terrible period....13 months after I had stopped. Dang! Eventually they all stopped and I have to say I never really had any of the normal menopause symptoms. The radiation onc was baffled why my periods didn't stop because he told me my ovaries would get fried. Just goes to show you that not everyone's ovaries are precisely where the docs think that they are. I can tell you that one very annoying menopause symptom has been the inability to SLEEP anymore. Oh, you sleep, but not in the heavy, relaxed, 8 hour stretches that you once were able to. My GP says that's just normal.

Can't say what radiation did/didn't do to my ovaries and all of my hormones.
Dx 6/22/2006 IIA rectal cancer
6 wks rad/Xeloda -finished 9/06
1st attempt transanal excision 11/06
11/17/06 XELOX 1 cycle
5 months Xeloda only Dec '06 - April '07
10+ blood clots, 1 DVT 1/07
transanal excision 4/20/07 path-NO CANCER CELLS!
NED now and forever!
Perform random acts of kindness

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kellywin
Posts: 464
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:46 pm
Location: Northern CA

Re: Radiation induced menopause

Postby kellywin » Tue May 16, 2017 4:18 pm

Radiation induced menopause here. And while I love the no period thing - I'd take it back in a heartbeat to get back normal sex (eg not crying in pain) and the hot flashes. The hot flashes are so overwhelming. Initially, I struggled with upwards of 30 night sweats each night for months. I ended up taking Neurontin (Gabapentin) for neuropothy and it's really reduced the hot flashes. The night sweats are gone now, but the damage from radiation and menopause remains regarding sex. Please, please, please make sure you are seeing a fantastic gynecologist that will put you on Premarin cream and Vagefem pills now.
Kelly, mom 12 yo girl
Dx 11/15/12 Rectal Cancer @ age 40
Stage IIIC
5.5 weeks Xeloda & Radiation - complete 2/5/13
Colectomy 3/12/13, 7 of 14 nodes positive - no ileo
4/24/13-8/20/13 - 5 rounds Xelox, 1 Xeloda only
7/2015 Clear colonoscopy!
4/2017 Clear CT!

Aqx99
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2017 7:28 am
Location: Pfafftown, NC

Re: Radiation induced menopause

Postby Aqx99 » Tue May 16, 2017 8:59 pm

I go back to see my radiation oncologist in September to get vaginal dilators. She warned me about vaginal stenosis at our initial consultation. I plan on seeing my gynecologist later in the year, as my annual exam is due right about the time of my surgery. I called her office about going off the pill and explained what was going on with my cancer. Between the two I hope to get back to some semblance of normal.
Female, 39
Stage IIIB Rectal Cancer
T3N1M0
Diagnosed at age 39
2/21/17 diagnosis
3/23/17 - 5/2/17 Chemoradiation, 28 treatments
6/14/17 Robotic LAR with temp loop ileostomy, ovaries removed, 2/21 lymph nodes positive
CEA at diagnosis 0.9

weisssoccermom
Posts: 5718
Joined: Thu May 10, 2007 2:32 pm
Location: Pacific NW

Re: Radiation induced menopause

Postby weisssoccermom » Tue May 16, 2017 10:11 pm

Sorry, but waiting until September for the dilators isn't the best timing. By then, the damage has already occurred, scar tissue has formed and you'll have a nightmare on your hands. You should get in NOW and get those dilators...please do NOT wait. It is difficult, if not impossible, to try and undo some of the damage from the radiation after that scar tissue has had a chance to harden.
Dx 6/22/2006 IIA rectal cancer
6 wks rad/Xeloda -finished 9/06
1st attempt transanal excision 11/06
11/17/06 XELOX 1 cycle
5 months Xeloda only Dec '06 - April '07
10+ blood clots, 1 DVT 1/07
transanal excision 4/20/07 path-NO CANCER CELLS!
NED now and forever!
Perform random acts of kindness


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