Menopausal symptoms can be difficult to deal with at any time but warmer summer weather can make it even harder for people coping with hot flushes and night sweats.
Hot flushes and night sweats are the most common menopausal symptoms experienced as a side effect of lots of different breast cancer treatments both while you’re being treated and afterwards. Around 70% of women treated are affected.
Flushes can vary for each person from a couple per day to a few every hour and a mild sensation of warming that just affects the face to waves of heat throughout the body sometimes with drenching perspiration.
For most women hot flushes will fade over time and become less severe but they can go on for months or even years.
Many women get flushes at night as well as night sweats which can disturb your sleep. In turn this can cause forgetfulness irritability and trouble concentrating.
Here are some simple tips you can try.
- Carry a battery operated hand-held fan with you.
- Wear layers so that you can remove clothing when a flush starts.
- Try a silk pillow case at night or a cool pillow known as a ‘chillow’.
- Keep a bottle of water with you and avoid caffeine alcohol and spicy foods.
- Wear loose-fitting cotton clothing.
- Keep a water spray with you perhaps mildly fragranced.
- Take regular exercise.
- Try to avoid things that you know trigger your hot flushes.
There are a range of prescription drugs that can help relieve hot flushes which some women find helpful. But for others there are side effects that outweigh the benefits of taking them.
Hormone replacement treatment is not usually offered to women with breast cancer because there’s uncertainty about whether it increases the risk of breast cancer coming back.
Other menopausal symptoms
They can include:
- stress anxiety and mood changes
- decreased sex drive (libido)
- vaginal dryness
- bladder problems such as incontinence passing urine more frequently and developing urinary tract infections
- weight gain especially around the waist
- joint pain and osteoporosis risk
- fatigue and tiredness
- changes to skin and hair.
There’s more about these symptoms and how to deal with them in our Breast cancer information section.
Talk to an expert
Talking about menopausal symptoms can be difficult. But it’s an important part of your treatment and recovery to address any difficulties you’re having.
In the new edition of our booklet Menopausal symptoms and breast cancer there’s a prompt list to help you talk about your symptoms with a healthcare professional. There are also lots more tips to help you deal with your symptoms.
It’s also worth asking your breast care team or your GP if there’s a specialist menopause clinic in your local area where you’ll be able to get advice and support.
If you’d like to talk to our Helpline experts about these or any other breast cancer or breast health-related issues please call 0808 800 6000.