Womb cancer treatment (surgery, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy) might cause an early menopause. Knowing what to expect, and talking things over can be helpful.
If you have not yet had your menopause, your operation to remove womb cancer will bring on an early menopause. This is because when the surgeon removes your womb (hysterectomy), they also remove both your ovaries and fallopian tubes. Your surgeon may suggest leaving one ovary, but this is not always possible.
Other treatments, such as radiotherapy to the pelvis and some chemotherapy drugs can cause an early menopause.
Symptoms of the menopause include:
- hot flushes
- dry skin and dry vagina
- feeling emotional
- anxiety and loss of confidence
These symptoms can be quite intense because your treatment has caused a more sudden menopause, rather than going into the menopause naturally over a longer period of time.
It might help to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) following womb cancer. It may help with some of the symptoms of the menopause. HRT gives you the female sex hormones that your ovaries no longer produce. You can have HRT by taking a tablet, wearing a skin patch, or having an implant every few months.
Ask your doctor or nurse about vaginal creams and lubricants if you have vaginal dryness.
Side effects of radiotherapy
Radiotherapy for womb cancer can be quite intensive. It can cause a number of side effects that can affect your sex life.
- fibrosis and narrowing of the vagina
- an increase of fibrous tissue in the vagina making it less stretchy
- vaginal dryness
- pain when having sex
- delicate skin inside the vagina
Talking things over
You may feel nervous about starting your sex life again. If you are worried, anxious or depressed, you might not feel like having sex. It may help to talk things over with your partner. Together you can hopefully work out what is best for you both. It might help to talk to a sex therapist. Your GP will be able to put you in touch with someone. But for most people, things get better over time.