Symptoms: Menopause, Infertility, and Sexual Health

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2015:862:115-41. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-16366-6_9.


By 2022, the number of survivors is expected to grow to nearly 18 million. Therefore, addressing acute and chronic negative sequelae of a cancer diagnosis and its treatments becomes a health imperative. For women with a history of breast cancer, one of the common goals of treatment and prevention of recurrence is to reduce circulating concentrations of estradiol, especially in women with hormone receptor positive breast cancer. Hormone deprivation after a diagnosis of breast cancer impacts physiological targets other than in the breast tissue and can result in unwanted side effects, all of which can negatively impact quality of life and function and cause distress. Symptoms that are most strongly linked by evidence to hormone changes after cancer diagnosis and treatment include hot flashes, night sweats, sleep changes, fatigue, mood changes, and diminishing sexual function, including vaginal atrophy (decreased arousal, dryness and dyspareunia), infertility, decreased desire and negative self-image. Weight gain and resulting body image changes are often concomitants of the abrupt onset of treatment-induced menopause. The purpose of this chapter is to briefly review what is known about the advent of premature menopause in women treated for breast cancer, menopausal symptoms that are exacerbated by endocrine treatments for breast cancer, and the associated concerns of hot flashes and related menopausal symptoms, sexual health and fertility issues. We will discuss limitations in the current research and propose strategies that address current limitations in order to move the science forward.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Fatigue / epidemiology
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Hot Flashes / epidemiology
  • Hot Flashes / etiology
  • Hot Flashes / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / etiology*
  • Infertility, Female / therapy
  • Menopause, Premature* / drug effects
  • Menopause, Premature* / radiation effects
  • Quality of Life
  • Reproductive Health*