Everybody experiences chemotherapy differently, but one thing is for certain, treatment can have negative effects. For women, these symptoms can be particularly distressing during menstruation, when hormones can already elicit a rollercoaster of emotions and physical responses. While there’s no standard for how your periods and chemotherapy will interact, here are a few things to consider:
Ovarian Function During Chemotherapy
Since cancer medications can affect organ function, you might begin to notice irregular periods. Some patients might experience heavier bleeding while others find their periods slow down or stop altogether. Periods can also come early or last longer than usual.
In the case of heavier-than-normal periods, heavy flow can deplete iron stores, so make sure to tell your doctor right away if you feel dizzy or weak during your period, as these could indicate anemia. Your doctor could prescribe iron supplements or dietary changes, including more poultry, seafood, and leafy greens.
In some cases, chemo medication can trigger menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings. Often, periods return to normal after chemotherapy, but sometimes premature menopause can become permanent.
Note: Although your periods might become irregular, you can still become pregnant during chemotherapy, so make sure to discuss your birth control options during treatment.
PMS During Chemotherapy
Coping with the symptoms of therapy along with PMS can be exhausting. Maintaining an open and honest dialogue with your doctor is crucial, especially if you feel like added stress from irregular or painful periods interferes with your treatment. You and your physician should closely examine any emotional outbursts to make sure they are PMS-related and not a sign of a larger issue. More importantly, take note of any remedies that might ease period discomfort and make chemotherapy more bearable.
Dietary Supplements and Chemotherapy
Be aware that some herbal remedies, dietary changes and supplements can interfere with chemo drugs. For this reason, discuss any dietary adjustments with your doctor beforehand to ensure they are safe to implement. Alternative therapies that can help ease menstrual symptoms include aromatherapy, acupuncture and massage therapy. When used correctly, these treatments can ease anxiety, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and cramps. Light exercise and meditation can also have positive effects on patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Eagle’s Landing OB/GYN in Stockbridge, GA wants you and your family to thrive. For any questions or concerns regarding pregnancy, parenting or related issues, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 770-474-1919.