About one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer, sending them into a different world where sacrifices are made for the greater good. For example, women who are hormone-receptor positive (two out of three women with breast cancer are) often turn to hormone therapy, which can come at a cost.
While effective, this approach to breast cancer can wreak havoc on your vaginal and sexual health and lead to other symptoms that are typically reserved for those who are going through menopause.
If you find yourself struggling with symptoms related to hormone therapy that contribute to declining sexual health, the team here at Ideal Gynecology is here to help. Our own Dr. Lillian Schapiro is a breast cancer survivor and understands the unique challenges faced by women who go through hormone therapy. To answer the call, she and our nurse practitioner, Kathryn Garren, offer treatments designed to get your sexual health back on track.
While there are several types of hormone therapies for breast cancer survivors, most involve suppressing or blocking your estrogen hormones. The reason this is done is because many cancer cells have estrogen and/or progesterone receptors that help these dangerous cells multiply and spread.
To prevent this from happening, doctors prescribe hormone therapies that suppress estrogen production or block estrogen (antiestrogens).
The side effects of lost estrogen
When breast cancer survivors embark on hormone therapy, they’re essentially entering the world of perimenopause and menopause. As women who’ve already made these transitions naturally can attest, the widespread impact that lower estrogen levels can have are significant and include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Thinning vaginal tissue
- Loss of elasticity in the vaginal walls
- Hot flashes and night sweats
While this list includes physical side effects, a loss of libido should also be included, as this is one of the primary complaints when it comes to hormone therapy.
Getting your (sex) life back
Going through cancer treatments can be exhausting, uncomfortable, and stressful, and you want nothing more than to come out the other side. When you’re met by long-term complications that affect your sexual health, you’re understandably frustrated, which is where we come in.
Our team understands your frustration and your more intimate problems, and we offer the tools you need to regain your sex life, including:
- Non-estrogen and non-phytoestrogen lubricants
- Pelvic therapy
Using a combination of these products and exercises, we can work around the loss of estrogen to restore health to your vaginal tissue.
The bottom line is that we want to help breast cancer survivors get back to being vibrant, sensual, and happy women.
To help you better manage the transition to a life without estrogen, contact one of our two offices in Atlanta or McDonough, Georgia, to set up an appointment.