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Menopause

Learn about the effects of diet, lifestyle, and surgical menopause on cancer risk and quality-of-life for people with HBOC.

Menopause overview

The decision to undergo prophylactic removal of the ovaries and tubes to lower the risk for cancer is a difficult and personal one. Women who undergo oophorectomy prior to natural menopause will experience menopause from the surgery.  Menopausal symptoms and the experience varies from woman to woman. Menopause can bring changes in a woman's health and well-being. Research has shown that menopause can be associated with the following:

  • osteoporosis (loss of bone density)
  • heart disease
  • decreased libido and other sexual side effects
  • hot-flashes 

Some women find hormone replacement alleviates their menopausal symptoms. However, research on hormone replacement is inconclusive regarding the benefits and risks to menopausal women.  Because much of the research has been conducted on women who experienced natural menopause, the applicability to women experiencing early surgical menopause is uncertain. 

In 2012, the North American Menopause Society released a position statement on hormone replacement therapy which included the following points important to woman considering hormone replacement therapy:

  • Hormone replacement therapy is the most effective treatment for the symptoms of menopause
  • Many woman can take hormone replacement therapy safely
  • Women with breast cancer, blood clots, heart disease or stroke should discuss these conditions with their health care provider.
  • Estrogen replacement therapy can be taken longer than estrogen/progesterone combination therapy.

It is important for each woman to discuss menopausal symptoms with their doctor and to weigh the potential benefits and relief from hormone replacement vs. their individual risks from hormone replacement or other menopausal treatments.