Will Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Affect My Menstrual Cycle?

Does Chemotherapy Affect My Menstrual Cycle?

186604426 (1)Women who have undergone chemotherapy treatment have often experienced interruptions in their menstrual cycle. This has left patients wondering if chemotherapy treatment is the cause of their unusual cycle pattern.

Concerned women have asked, “Is my irregular menstrual cycle normal? Is this caused by chemotherapy?” Medical Oncologist Dr. David Margileth says that these menstrual cycle interruptions caused by chemotherapy treatment are not uncommon.

Breast Cancer patients experiencing irregular cycle can depend on numerous factors, the two most important factors being, your age and the type of chemotherapy that is given to you. In this video, Dr. Margileth explains how chemotherapy treatment affects your menstrual cycle.

Transcript

David Margileth:  Women often ask the question and it should be addressed whether they ask or not, what is the effect of this chemotherapy on my menstrual cycle.

There are a number of variables that go into the question of whether a woman’s menstrual cycle will be affected by the treatment, one is the age of the patient.  Women in their early 30s, even with the most aggressive chemotherapies, may have some interruption in their periods during the chemotherapy but almost always will have their periods come back and maintain their fertility.

As a general rule of thumb with some of the more common breast cancer chemotherapies, age 40 is sort of a fifty-fifty split, half of the women after the chemotherapy keep their periods and half don’t.  If your periods have not come back within 6 to 12 months of completing the chemotherapy, they probably won’t and then the woman who is 49 and gets an aggressive chemotherapy, in all likelihood, her periods will stop since the natural history would be that they were just going to stop within the next several years anyway.  So, there are a number of factors that go into that, the age of the patient and the type of the chemotherapy being the most important.

David Margileth
Dr. David A. Margileth practices medical oncology at St. Joesph Hospital in Orange, CA specializing in oncology, hematology, and internal medicine (board certified). His selected area of interest is breast cancer. Dr. Margileth graduated from Baylor College of Medicine in 1971 and has since spent time treating patients at the National Cancer Institute and Methodist Hospital in Houston, TX.