Hormone Therapy Side Effects
Hormone therapy can cause several side effects due to the changing levels of estrogen and testosterone. Managing the side effects of hormone therapy can help ease and quicken recovery. Some of the side effects of hormone therapy include:
Fatigue is often described as weakness, lack of energy, or feeling heavy or slow. It can occur in varying intensities, from mild to severe. Fatigue is one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy. It can be caused or worsened by many factors, such as: anemia, poor nutrition, dehydration, lack of exercise, shortness of breath, infection, over-exertion, lack of sleep, or even the medications that you are on. Chemotherapy-induced fatigue is not always relieved with rest.
- Plan short naps during the day
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep at night
- Maintain adequate nutrition and hydration
- Find ways to decrease stress
- Delegate tasks
- Consider an abbreviated work schedule if possible
- Don’t overdo it!
Both men and women experience hot flashes during hormone therapy. Your physician may prescribe a medication that helps with hot flashes, or you can try one of the following remedies:
- Dress in layers
- Stay active
- Reduce stress
- Reduce room temperature
- Ask your doctor about vitamin supplements that can help with hot flashes
Chemotherapy can lead to sexual changes in men and women which may impact intimate relationships. In women chemotherapy may damage the ovaries, leading to decreased hormone levels or even early menopause. Symptoms of decreased hormone production or menopause may include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, irritability, irregular or no menstrual periods, bladder or vaginal infections, or a decreased interest in sex. Symptoms for men may include inability to reach climax, impotence, or a decreased interest in sex.
- It is very important for you or your partner to avoid becoming pregnant while you are on chemotherapy. Chemotherapy drugs can be harmful to the baby, especially in the first three months of pregnancy.
- Always use protection. In women, birth control in combination with condoms can be used. If you, or your partner, have breast cancer, a diaphragm and condoms should be used. Men should always use condoms.
- If you are having difficulty with vaginal dryness, ask your doctor about medications that can be used to make intimacy more comfortable and to help avoid infections
Low Red Blood Cells (Anemia)
Anemia is when you have too few red blood cells to carry the oxygen your body needs. This can make your heart work harder, causing it to “pound” or beat faster than usual. You may feel very tired, short of breath, or dizzy. Many types of chemotherapy can make it harder for your bone marrow to make new red blood cells, putting chemotherapy patients at risk for anemia. Your doctor will check your blood counts to evaluate for low red blood cells.
- Limit activities- ask family/friends for help
- Rest when your body tells you to
- Eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of fluids
- Stand up/move slowly to avoid dizziness/falls
Contact your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Chest Pain (emergency room)
- Shortness of breath (emergency room)
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Fatigue prevents you from doing your usual daily activities
- Fast or pounding heartbeat
Both men and women can develop osteoporosis during hormone therapy. Ask you physician about vitamin supplements or medication to help prevent osteoporosis during treatment, or try one of the following remedies:
- Exercise 20-30 minutes a day or some sort of weight-bearing exercise
- Avoid weight gain or too much weight loss