Chemo - induced premature menopause - any advice?

I’m 43 and have had 4 x FEC, the last cycle of which seems to have dumped me into an early menopause - the blood test seems to indicate this anyway. I started hot flushes one night with no warning and they have not let up at all in the past 6 weeks. They run all day and night, some more incessant and vicious than others and are very unpleasant. I can keep the daily ones under control by turning off the heating, not wearing a jumper and freezing myself, which is horrible, but helps a bit. I can’t go out to the pub or a restaurant or anything where it is hot as they start with a vengeance. I can’t stay overnight with a friend or in a hotel as I get too hot. At night I am sleeping with an extremely light weight summer duvet, a chillow pillow, no heating and the window open and am usually disturbed by them from 2am to 6am non stop, sometimes earlier, and today I’ve been awake since 3am.

Does anyone have any advice? Nothing I take or do makes any difference. My GP is unhelpful, my bcn and oncologist sympathetic but won’t give me anything other than venlafaxine which doesn’t work other than to make me vomit.

I am so depressed, my life is so miserable I cannot contemplate how I will continue to function like this, I have no quality of life.

Has any younger woman suffered with this, how long did it last and how did you cope with it?

Any advice gratefully received!



Hi Helen, so sorry to hear you are suffering so. I can’t really help as the FEC hasn’t really affected me that way, but wanted to post and send you some hugs. There must be some other kind of relief they can offer you. Love alxx

Hi Helen

Whilst you wait for the other forum users to reply with their advice and information you may find it useful to read the BCC booklet ‘menopausal symptoms’ If you would like a copy or to read it on line just follow this link:-*/changeTemplate/PublicationDisplay/publicationId/17/

I hope you find this helpful.

Kind regards
Sam (BCC Facilitator)

My heart goes out to you. I didn’t have chemotherapy but did have Zoladex, which has the same effect. My hot flushes did settle down and I tried all sorts of things. My oncologist recommended sage tablets (not tea), three times a day but it didn’t really work for me but it might be worth a try. I live in London and was referred to the Royal Homeopathic Hospital (it’s part of UCH) - the homeopathic pills didn’t really help, but I think that the acupuncture I also had there did.

I was also referred to a psychologist and I did some relaxation exercises which involved imagining that I had an inner thermostat which I could switch to cool and hot at different times. It sounds odd, but it did help, I think. As did getting a second chillow for when the first got hot. Apparently eating a banana before you go to bed can help as can Evening Primrose Oil. Paul McKenna’s Sleep CD might also be worth a try - any relaxation tape really.

But whilst it never got really good, my sleeping did improve. I’m now coming off Zoladex and my sleeping patterns are as bad as when I started but am hopeful that it will get better.

I’m 47 and am now in chemically induced menopause. My onc gave me a product call Femincin (not sure if available in UK, since I live outside UK) and this worked quite well for a while. I believe it is Black Cohosh based.

Since stopping chemo (5 weeks ago) the hot flushes are more severe and I spend many hours awake at night. My legs sweat now too where as before it was just my torso.

As mentioned in another reply sage helps some people and so does soy and evening primrose. You should discuss this with your onc since sage and soy are both phytoestrogens.

Unfortunately no one can tell how long it will last since the menopause effects everyone differently. At 47 I expect my menopause to be permanant and it occurred after only 2 treatments of AC.

I’m going to try sage, soy, or evening primrose to see if it helps. Quality of life is crap…I agree. People ask why you are red in the face…even my rad onc asked me this…you would have thought he could have guessed in his profession.

I hope you find something that helps you. I guess you know to avoid caffeine and alcohol, abit of a downer if you like chocolate etc.

Need to go open a window…


Helen, I am 47 (was 46 when i went through chemo) I had AC/Tax but was also pushed into an early menopause. Mine started after the 2nd AC. Throughout chemo i had flushes like you at all times of the day, please don’t let it get you down, they do ease up but not for a while. I finished chemo in March and they did slow down after chemo finished, and now i only get a couple a day and not so much at night. Like your medical team mine were a bit , ‘well it happens…sorry’ though i did get more sympathy from my gynocologist, who i had to see about something seperate from the BC. He suggested a herbal remedy which i bought online and they did help, but didn’t get rid of it completely, PM me if you want the name of it. Have you tried a Chillo pillow, they can be bought on line, just type in chillo pillow into google. i also came across an unusual thing, I was taking Tramadol for bone pain, and when i took them I found i didn’t get as many flushes at night, i told my Onc this and he was really interested, and said its because, tramadol stops the signals that tell you about the pain going to your brain, so they also can stop the signals telling your brain to have a flush…sounds a bit crazy but he said its true and my gyno agreed too. I also used an electric fan by the bed at night, even though i was going through chemo this time last year, i had the fan going when we had snow outside LOL.

hang on in there Rhian xx


I am 38 and suffering with hot flushes. Hate them! Had last chemo on 16th Nov and I don’t get them through the day now and perhaps 2/3 throughout the night. Mine started after 4 x FEC. They are definitely better now chemo has finished, so am keeping everything crossed. I have heard that evening primrose oil can help, but I haven’t tried it. As with anything, mention to your ONC first whilst on chemo. I used Rhian’s tip, and took tramadol when the flushes were really bad (sometimes every 15 mins through the night) and they certainly helped me. I used to have unbroken sleep, 8 hours every night before all this and now I’m lucky if I get half that. I am hoping that they will get less as the chemo chemicals leave my body!

Hope they improve, good luck.

I am so sorry to hear you are suffering so much, Helen. I did have the flushes and still do but thery are far less frequent. I found venlafaxine no good either. i take amitriptyline at night which helps me sleep. I certainly couldn’t sleep without it ! It can make you hot but it does ensure sleep. As it is an antidepressant, there is no risk of addiction. I am on 50mg but this will be different for others I expect. Tamoxifen does increase sweating but this decreased with time. It is such a s***t thing having bc and the after effects I have found are difficult to deal with.I take evening primrose oil too. Tramodol is a very strong pain killer and drowsiness is a side effect however it is addictive so beware. I had it when I had endemetriosis and wass on higher and higher doses as I became tolerant to them.
PM me if you want, I am always here to listen.

Rachy xx

Hi Helen,

I was pushed into the menopause at 44 during chemo. That was 2.5 years ago. The hot flushes were horrendous, I tried lots of things. I take tamoxifen, and have found taking 10mg twice a day rather than 20mg once a day helps. I tried accupuncture, but it wasn’t very helpful. I tried large doses of starflower oil (which is like a strong version of evening primrose oil) but that had very little effect. I am now taking clonidine which has really helped. It makes the difference between the flushes being bearable & unbearable. The flushes still wax & wane over time - they seem to have a cycle all of their own, and I will get several weeks when I think maybe they are on their way out at last, then they will come back with a vengeance.

The medical profession don’t seem to be able to come up with a solution here - I think it is not a priority. Am I being cynical and jaded when I wonder if that would change if men had hot flushes?