Tamoxifen, Estrogen, and Cancer
Maintaining Positive Vaginal Conditions During and After Breast Cancer Treatment in St. Louis
While breast cancer is generally used as a singular term, there are actually several different types of cancers that fall under that heading. Certain breast cancer cells bear receptors that allow the disease to grow and spread by attaching to estrogen, a hormone that governs the development of female sex characteristics. Some medications, such as Tamoxifen, can limit cancer cells’ ability to attach this way, making them valuable and effective treatments.
Unfortunately, women who take Tamoxifen and similar drugs can find that they experience vaginal dryness and a reduction in libido. For this reason, breast cancer patients undergoing this treatment may consider nonsurgical vaginal rejuvenation with Geneveve™ by Viveve to restore moisture and improve their sex drive while taking the medication.
West County Plastic Surgeons is committed to helping women get a better quality of life, including addressing the side effects of Tamoxifen and more, in St. Louis at Washington University. Come in for a consultation. Call (314) 996-8800 or send a message online.Request Your Consultation
What is Tamoxifen?
Known as a “selective estrogen receptor modulator,” Tamoxifen is a prescription drug used to treat breast cancer by inhibiting its growth and spread, as well as to reduce the risk of breast cancer developing in women considered high risk for the disease or the risk of breast cancer coming back in women who have undergone treatment.
Tamoxifen is taken orally, as a pill or liquid, over a span of years.
Patients who take Tamoxifen commonly include:
- women who have been treated for breast cancer, especially with surgery, and are looking to lower their risk of early-stage, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer returning in the same breast or developing in the other (note that this option is primarily for pre-menopausal women).
- hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer patients looking to reduce the size of a mass before surgery or slow the spread of cancer elsewhere in the body.
- patients seeking treatment for advanced-stage, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.
- women not yet diagnosed with breast cancer, but living with an above-average risk of developing the disease.
What Are the Side Effects of Low Estrogen and Tamoxifen?
Since Tamoxifen is hormonal therapy that changes how estrogen works in the body, it can impact areas that are particularly susceptible to hormone shifts. As noted above, common side effects include vaginal dryness, thinning vaginal tissues, and a reduction in libido.
These symptoms are similar to those experienced by women going through menopause. In fact, Tamoxifen, anti-estrogen drugs in general, and menopause can all generate low-estrogen-related problems.
Signs of low estrogen in women can include the aforementioned vaginal changes and a dip in sex drive, as well as hot flashes, depression and mood swings, changes to menstrual cycles, and more. Aside from physical challenges to a healthy sex life—and perhaps even because of them—these changes can also prompt feelings of stress related to intercourse that has become disinteresting or even painful.
Avoiding sex can create a loop in which decreased intimacy leads to worsening feelings about initiating or participating in intercourse, which can lead to further disappointment and dissatisfaction, and so on.
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What Are the Options for Addressing Tamoxifen Side Effects in St. Louis?
Do not underestimate the benefits of a well-lubricated vaginal area. By reducing friction due to dryness, more pleasurable sensations can return, which can lead to a more positive outlook on intercourse.
At West County Plastic Surgeons, the team uses Geneveve™ by Viveve to rejuvenate the vaginal area. The treatment involves radiofrequency energy applied to the soft tissues there, which stimulates new collagen growth for structure and support. Fresh collagen gradually tightens the vaginal canal (improving sensation) and strengthens tissues in the pelvic floor, providing support for the bladder and other organs. This is a particularly welcome benefit for women who have begun to experience urinary incontinence.
A single Geneveve™ by Viveve session takes about half an hour, and the results have been shown to last up to a year. Since courses of Tamoxifen can run five years or longer, nonsurgical vaginal rejuvenation represents a long-term solution for a long-term treatment.
Beyond Rejuvenation for Low Estrogen
Breast cancer patients who have experienced a change in the size or shape of their breasts can talk to the West County Plastic Surgeons team about cosmetic options to address it.
Women who want to know more about rejuvenating or altering their vaginal area, even if they have not experienced menopause or undergone treatment for cancer, can also discuss options with the team. In addition to nonsurgical solutions, vaginoplasty and labiaplasty are available.
Set up a consultation to discuss rejuvenation to address low estrogen due to Tamoxifen and other reasons at the St. Louis-based West County Plastic Surgeons of Washington University. Call (314) 996-8800 or send a message online.Request Your Consultation