Early menopause as a result of cancer treatment

Cancer treatment can cause a number of side effects, which can include early or temporary menopause. 

  • The menopause is when your periods stop and your ovaries stop making eggs 

  • It usually happens when you’re 45-55 years old but can be earlier as a result of cancer treatment 

  • There are lots of symptoms of early menopause which can be mistaken for other things 

What is the menopause?

The menopause affects people with a uterus and ovaries. It’s what happens when your periods stop and your ovaries stop making eggs. This usually happens when you’re around 45-55 years old but it can also happen earlier as a result of cancer treatment. If this happens under the age of 40 it’s sometimes also called Premature Ovarian Insufficiency or POI but it’s more commonly called ‘early menopause’.  

How does cancer treatment affect periods?

There are a few different ways that cancer treatment can stop your periods.  You might have had your ovaries and uterus removed, you might have had radiotherapy around or on your ovaries or you might have had some specific chemotherapy drugs. Your care team should talk to you about the potential impact and side effects of your treatment before you start.  

Going through early menopause can be a difficult experience for young people so it’s important you look after yourself and speak to your care team, or family and friends if you have any concerns.  

The Daisy Network is a charity that supports people going through early menopause, find out more about the work they do and how they might be able to support you on their website. 

What are the symptoms of early menopause?

There are lots of different symptoms of early menopause and they can often be mistaken for other things, like other side effects from your cancer treatment. If you have any of the symptoms below, it doesn’t mean you’re definitely going through early menopause but it’s always worth noting any changes and new symptoms with your care team so they can keep track of what’s going on. 

Symptoms of early menopause include: 

  • Irregular or no periods 

  • Low mood or anxiety 

  • Painful bones and joints 

  • Headaches 

  • Weight gain and/or bloating in your stomach area 

  • Irregular heart rate 

  • Hot flushes and night sweats 

  • Vaginal dryness and painful sex 

How can I manage symptoms of early menopause?

You might be able to manage some or all of your symptoms yourself by making some changes to your usual routine or you might be prescribed some medication to help. Before you make any changes to your routine you should speak to your clinical team for advice. They will also be able to explain any medication you are prescribed. 


Eating during cancer treatment can be tough, as your appetite can change and you might feel sick. Try to get a balanced diet as much as possible. Bone density loss can be one of the side effects of the menopause.  

The following points can help with this: : 

  • Getting more calcium by eating things like milk and cheese can help strengthen bones 

  • Foods like oily fish, red meat and egg yolks have vitamin D in them which can also help with bone strength 

  • Some good fats in fish (Omega-3) have been known to help with hot flushes  

You can find out more about which foods contain different vitamins and minerals on the NHS website.  

If you’re looking for more information on food, diet and what to eat Trekstock, who support young adults with cancer, have a really useful guide called ‘Food and cancer - what’s the deal?’ which you can download on their website


You might not be as active as usual if you’re currently going through treatment. But keeping as active as possible and aiming for 30 minutes of exercise a day can help with stress and improve general wellbeing. If you’re struggling to motivate yourself try to find a type of exercise you enjoy doing - you might be more likely to stick to your plans if you find it fun.  


Symptoms of early menopause might affect your sleep. Hot flushes might interrupt your sleep pattern so you might feel tired. Here are some tips for improving your sleep: 

  • Have a regular sleep schedule. Try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day  

  • Keep your bedroom cool by using light cotton bed sheets and PJs as this will help keep your body temperature down  

  • Avoid large or spicy meals before bed as they can raise your body temperature  

  • Avoid having naps and caffeine as these may affect your sleep at night  

Healthy lifestyle 

There are some other changes you can make which can also ease symptoms of early menopause:  

  • Some people have reported hot flushes and poor sleep were more common after drinking alcohol, so cutting down or cutting this out completely can help 

  • Cutting down or quitting smoking cigarettes can also help, while also having many other health benefits 

  • Relaxation techniques, meditation and mindfulness may help relieve stress and worry. Young Minds and Mind have lots of information on mental health and wellbeing that you might find useful. Apps like Headspace and Calm might also be useful for relaxation and mindfulness tips. Speak to your care team if you would like support with using these or help finding any other organisations that might be able to help with this. 


Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a type of medication used to help symptoms of the menopause. There are lots of different types of HRT and ways in which you’ll be given it. It could be a tablet, patch, gel or pessary. A pessary is a type of medication which comes in a tablet form and you put in your vagina. 

HRT isn’t suitable for everyone so make sure to speak with your treatment team about whether it’s an option for you as they will be able to give you all the information you need. 

If you have questions about early menopause or your diagnosis you can always ask your care team.  

This information is taken from the larger resource on Premature Ovarian Insufficiency. We would like to thank everyone listed below for all their hard work on this resource and for collaborating with us on this version! 


  • Amy, Emma, Caitlin 
  • Diane Danzebrink - Menopause Counsellor, Founder of Menopause Support (menopausesupport.co.uk) and the #MakeMenopauseMatter campaign 
  • Dr Kate Edwards - Clinical Psychologist for Teenagers and Young Adults with cancer, Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust 
  • Dr Claire Higham - Consultant Endocrinologist, Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Honorary Senior Lecturer, University of Manchester  
  • Angela Leather - Transplant Coordinator, Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 
  • Franchessca Sefton - Teenage Cancer Trust Youth Support Coordinator, Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust 
  • Dr Jacqui Stringer - Lead in Complimentary Health and Wellbeing, Christie NHS Foundation Trust 
  • Cara Williams - Consultant Gynaecologist, Liverpool Women’s Hospital and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital  
  • Lorraine Wright - Teenage Cancer Trust Youth Support Coordinator, Christie NHS Foundation Trust 

You should always speak to your care team if you have any specific questions about your treatment or any side effects you might experience.  

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