Women facing oncological treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, in addition to experiencing the difficulties of the disease and situations of major psychological impact, are faced with numerous changes affecting the sexual sphere. Cancer therapies can cause damage to ovarian function, with absence of menstruation for the duration of the therapy. Chemotherapy treatments – particularly those administered in the presence of hormone-responsive breast and ovarian cancer and treated with drugs such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors – are frequently associated with temporary or permanent amenorrhoea. This absence of menstrual cycle is the result of the toxicity that the drugs have on the ovarian function. For preventive purposes in women of childbearing age, menopause is induced before starting the treatment, in order to suppress normal production of oestrogen and progesterone. The pharmacological menopause presents a sharp drop in oestrogen production and this sudden change triggers many uncomfortable disorders.
Induced menopause: between changes and symptoms
The set of symptoms characterising induced menopause are the same as for natural menopause, but are usually more unpleasant, longer lasting and more difficult to accept, especially for younger women. Hot flushes, night sweats, low mood, fatigue, weight gain, skin changes, decreased libido, sleep disorders and mood swings are just some of the symptoms of induced menopause, which occur intensely and sometimes become disabling. One of the most difficult aspects, however, is the negative consequences of the drop in oestrogen on the pelvic floor, which leads to thinning of the genital tissues and vaginal mucous membranes. The resulting effects are lubrication difficulties, vaginal dryness, dyspareunia (pain during sexual intercourse) and vaginal atrophy, all of which have a profound effect on the life of the patient and of the couple.
Pharmacological menopause and intimacy
Cancer therapies and induced menopause put physical and psychological strain on any patient. Depression, anxiety, mistrust of one’s image, fear of no longer being desirable for one’s partner, are just some of the psychological aspects that accompany patients. Induced menopause can indeed have a profound effect on the patient’s life and quality of life, even to the point of disturbing the couple’s intimacy. For this very reason it is important (during but also after oncological therapies) not to neglect this aspect and to undergo specialist visits. Pelvic floor gynaecologists and physiotherapists are essential figures in this path: through a set of rehabilitative techniques aimed at curing or reducing the symptoms reported by the patient and caused by the dysfunction of this area, they pursue the objective of helping to regain the lost or damaged intimacy.
The importance of pelvic regabilitation
Pelvic rehabilitation in patients plays a key role in ensuring that the woman lives this aspect of cancer treatment as serenely as possible. The rehabilitation process begins with an assessment carried out by a healthcare professional and follows with the patient’s awareness of this part of the body which is very often still unknown to them. The physiotherapist will then create a targeted and personalized treatment plan, consisting of manual techniques, specific exercises and/or instrumental therapies in order to strengthen or relax the musculature. In many cases, patients are advised to use certain techniques and tools outside the clinic in order to maintain the progress they have made.
Sapi Med for gynecology
Sapi Med Home Care Line offers gynaecological-focused home therapies designed to provide the patients with a customised service, improving their quality of life and ensuring that they stay in a family environment. Different products:
- DILAGENT: dilator in soft biomedical silicone that offers effective and targeted training of the perineal muscles and promotes functional recovery. Dilagent is particularly indicated in gynaecology for the treatment of vaginism and dyspareunia.
- ELLEN PELVIC TRAINER: vaginal probe for contractions training, designed to improve vaginal compliance and to overcome the discomfort caused by impaired pelvic muscle function. According to needs and indications, it may be expanded with warm air or water. The softness and elasticity of ELLEN make it possible to create personalised therapeutic treatments aimed at obtaining the desired results.
- CAMOCAL GEL: a vaginal lubricating and moisturising gel rich in natural elements (chamomile, calendula, hypericum, horse chestnut, allantoin and propolis). Thanks to its active principles and in particular to the addition of hyaluronic acid, it is particularly indicated as a therapeutic product for the treatment of vaginal atrophy.
The contents of this page are for informational use only and in no case should they replace the opinion, diagnosis or treatment prescribed by your doctor. The response to the same treatment can vary from one patient to another. Always consult with your doctor on any information relating to diagnosis and treatment and scrupulously follow his instructions.