early menopause and fertility

ccartwri Member Posts: 82
edited March 2014 in Colorectal Cancer #1
I am 34 and have rectal CA. I finished six weeks of chemo/radiation about one month ago. I will be having surgery in September followed by six months of Folfox 6. I am having hot flashes and sweat while sleeping. my rad onco says there is no way of knowing yet whether it is truly menopause or whether my ovaries will have some activity later. Typically I would not go in to menopause for one to two years after radiation but I am having symptoms now. My FSH blood level was 60, showing menopause. What experiences have folks had with going in to menopause? Also, has anyone had children after radiation?


  • taraHK
    taraHK Member Posts: 1,952 Member
    Hi Claudia,
    I was diagnosed with rectal CA at age 43. I had a very similar course of treatment to yours. I went into instant menopause (hot flashes, night sweats). I can't remember the exact timing, but I think it was similar to you -- very soon after the radiation. I never had another period and my understanding is that my ovaries were "fried" (excuse the frank terminology) by the radiation. I remember having a blood test some time later, to confirm that I was in menopause, but this was pretty much a formality for me. I'm afraid I can't help you out with your question about having kids after radiation. I had my kids before all this happened. I am taking HRT for a while. I know this is a controversial topic. I am on FOLFOX now -- 4 down, 8 to go. So far, not too bad. I wish you all the best.
  • markatger
    markatger Member Posts: 314
    Hi Claudia,

    I finished radiation almost exactly one month ago myself. I'm not sure if I have been getting hot flashes or not, it's hard for me to tell with the hot weather we have been having. I am actually now trying to decide whether to have my ovaries removed when I have rectal surgery at end of month as a precaution against metastasis there. It seems like it would make sense if my overies are dead anyways from radiation, but I don't know for sure if they are. Sorry not much info for you, just sympathizing where you're at.

  • jana11
    jana11 Member Posts: 705
    Hi Claudia, I was diagnosed at 32 yrs. and went into immediate menopause. I was taking an SSRI, an antidepressant, that helps reduce hot flushes. It was a life saver. I hate to tell you this, but I am still having hot flushes several times a day - I hate it, but have learned to ignore it. I started radiation 11/02.

    As far as having kids after radiation.. not if you had rectal cancer. The ovaries may continue some activity, but they will be damaged. I wouldn't trust my own DNA after all the radiation trauma. AND, your uterus is equally damaged, or "fried" - sorry to offend, but that is how I think about my own reproductive organs.

    Hormones are not an option during cancer treatments because cancer and chemo increase your risk of having clots. After all is done, you should consider hormone replacement.

    My advice: try the SSRI. I took Lexapro and liked it very much. I am going to start the adoption process if my next CT is clear.

    I hope this doesn't make you too sad. It took me a while to come to terms with my own infertility. BUT, I can still be a mom and give a baby a wonderful life... a baby that doesn't have my awful DNA. :)

    If you have more questions, please ask. Focus on the battle at hand.. the rest will work itself out in time. I can't believe how much I have been through in the last 3 yrs... but it also feels like it has flown by. It feels very distant now, because I feel so good.

    I always planned fun trips after chemo completion. Thinking about my trips helped the time fly.

    Also, after surgery I only had 4+ months of chemo because my oncologist said the pre-op chemo and radation time all counted towards the 6 months. Ask your onc about that.

    Your goal right now.... have fun the next several weeks. Enter surgery with a strong body and mind; and recovery fast. Get a calendar and write fun activities to do every day!! Smile and be happy the radiation is done.

    Take care, jana