If you’re a breast cancer survivor, you may wonder whether Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is safe. Menopausal HRT is an option that some women choose to help relieve symptoms of menopause. However, healthcare providers express concern about breast cancer survivors taking HRT because of the known link between estrogen levels and breast cancer growth.
According to the American Cancer Society, a well-established clinical trial discovered that breast cancer survivors who took HRT had a greater chance of developing new or recurrent breast cancer than women who did not take HRT drugs. This study was enough to steer healthcare providers away from HRT recommendations for women previously treated for breast cancer.
Just because you can’t take HRT doesn’t mean relief for menopausal symptoms is hopeless. We’ve got the most up-to-date information on alternatives to HRT for breast cancer survivors. Here’s what we know…
How Breast Cancer Survivors Can Support Menopause Without HRT
Menopause shows up differently in everyone, but there are some telltale signs that many women deal with, including:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Mood changes
- Weight changes
- Dryness (everywhere)
- Sexual dysfunction
Your healthcare provider is your best go-to resource when it comes to relieving these symptoms without taking HRT. However, there are several lifestyle factors to consider that can help.
Maintain a Healthy Weight: As our hormones start changing, it can affect how we store fat and carry weight. Maintaining or returning to a healthy weight is one of the best ways to help keep menopausal symptoms at bay.
Get moving every day: daily exercise doesn’t have to look a certain way. Make sure to get up and move as much as possible to support both physical and mental wellness. This could be as simple as daily walks, or you can even take up new activities like an exercise class, hiking group, or team sport.
Pay attention to what you eat: long gone are the days when we could eat whatever we want. Reducing sugar and alcohol intake will significantly improve your menopausal symptoms, help you with weight management, and improve sleep quality. You may also want to reduce or eliminate caffeine intake and quit smoking if you haven’t already. It’s also important to get plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, ample fiber, and healthy fats and protein.
Pay attention to phytoestrogens: these estrogen-like substances are found in certain plants, such as soy, red clover, and black cohosh. Some women find relief when taking supplements containing these ingredients — but the jury is still out on whether or not these supplements are safe and effective. Talk with your healthcare provider if you are considering taking these supplements or adding foods that contain these ingredients.
Vaginal dryness relief: everything gets dry during menopause, including your vagina. This dryness can cause pain and discomfort, which may lead to infection or painful sex. You can try non-hormonal treatments such as lubricants (be sure to check the ingredients and focus on products that use only clean ingredients). Devices that stimulate vaginal tissue, like our vFit, can also stimulate natural lubrication products and help support vaginal health.
Menopause Solutions for Everyone
As new research emerges, women have a lot more options to support menopausal symptoms. We are excited to be at the forefront of these discoveries and will continue to grow and learn to support you along this journey.