Dr. Lila Schmidt shares if chemotherapy treatments can cause early menopause.
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Most definitely. The definition of menopause is, as most people know, the cessation of menstrual periods. However, scientifically it means your eggs are gone, so if you do have chemotherapy and it has been very toxic on the ovaries, you are in a menopause earlier. The average age of menopause is 52. However, if you are 35 or older and start to go in a menopause it is not considered early, even those most lay people would think, “Oh, that’s very early,” scientifically it’s not. So if you are talking to a woman who is having had chemotherapy then what you can do is send her to a reproductive endocrinologist on the third day of her cycle, that is if she is cycling, you can do an ultrasound and a blood test. You can do an ultrasound to see how many, what’s called primordial follicles that are, they are the little follicles. They are the future eggs that will be developing soon. A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have and so you want to see how many she might have left. You also do a blood draw on that day and it can give you an idea of how close she is to menopause and you also take a very good history. If her mom went into menopause at the age of 52 or 53 her chances are increased that she will go longer, even if she’s been exposed to chemotherapy. Menopause is genetically related as well as any trauma that’s been to the ovaries, whether it’s by surgery, if you’ve had decreased blood supply to ovary. Let’s say you have an appendectomy and there was so much bleeding they had to cut off some of the blood supply to that ovary on the right – that ovary may die sooner then the left ovary.
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