This episode features a very open and honest account from GP and Newson Health doctor, Melanie Martins. Mel was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34 and, after a further diagnosis and chemotherapy, found herself 'flung' into the menopause with very little warning or discussion with the health professionals caring for her at the time.
Dr Martins shares with Dr Louise Newson why she believes every woman's experience of breast cancer is unique to them and a 'one size fits all' approach must be avoided. She shares about her own quest for help with persistent and worsening genitourinary symptoms and the psychological process of navigating evidence and making a decision to take vaginal estrogen, when she had avoided contact with this hormone for years.
Dr Martin's 3 pieces of advice for women experiencing menopause after breast cancer are:
- Read this booklet and listen to the podcasts on menopause doctor website: https://d2931px9t312xa.cloudfront.net/menopausedoctor/files/information/601/Been%20through%20breast%20cancer%20(with%20links).pdf
- If you're troubled by vulval and vaginal symptoms, stop using soap or shower gel and use an emollient wash instead. You can buy this over the counter in any chemist. These symptoms tend to worsen over time, don't struggle on and get desperate, seek help for them. Vaginal estrogen is safe, it can be used in the long term, alongside HRT, or on it's own.
- Find accurate information about menopause and treatments after breast cancer. And then make a decision that's right for you and you alone. You need to be at peace with that decision, and remember it's not set in stone forever. We can only make decisions based on the information we have and how we feel at the time, so don't look back with regret about what you did or didn't decide to do.