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Hormone Health After Chemotherapy

A Survivor’s Blueprint For Hormone Balance

Welcome back, survivors. As we step off the rigorous chemotherapy ride, we find ourselves on a new journey toward reclaiming our health and vitality. It's a path I've walked personally and professionally as both a survivor and a specialist. So,  I understand the many challenges you face as you navigate the long road to recovery. One crucial aspect of this journey is understanding and nurturing your hormone health, which is significantly impacted by chemotherapy treatment. 

This blog will take a look at a few key concepts that survivors should know about hormone health after chemotherapy. We’ll review how chemo impacts your hormone health, common symptoms, and some simple strategies to help bolster your hormone re-balancing. However, for a deeper dive into this topic I’m offering my Foundations of Hormone Health class to guide you through this critical aspect of your recovery. This class isn't just about education; it's also about connecting with a survivor community and creating a daily plan to support your hormone health for the long term. 

As a Naturopathic Endocrinologist, helping women improve their hormone health through naturally oriented remedies is my expertise. I’m eager to share these bite size but potent takeaways with you in this blog, but if you have more in-depth concerns about getting back into balance, I’m always happy to work with you one on one, or you can explore my courses specifically designed to help you with your Recovery After Cancer Treatment.

Naturopathic Endocrinologist

Understanding The Importance Of Hormone Health After Chemotherapy

Hormones are the body's chemical messengers, playing pivotal roles in regulating various physiological processes, from growth and metabolism to mood and reproductive health. Chemotherapy, while a powerful ally in the fight against cancer, disrupts this delicate balance and leads to a spectrum of symptoms. From fatigue and mood swings to weight changes and insomnia, imbalanced hormones can play a major role in feeling out of balance after chemo.

Identifying Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance Post-Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can cause changes in all of your hormones.  If you have not gone through menopause before chemo, it can quickly put you there.  This can cause hot flashes, night sweats, changes in libido and lubrication, and mood swings.  Steroids like dexamethasone that are used with your infusion can wreak havoc with your adrenal function, causing fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia,  And it is not uncommon to experience shifts in thyroid function during or after chemo, which can cause weight gain, contribute to digestive issues, and even impact cardiovascular and bone health.

It's vital to stay attuned to your body's signals, particularly when it comes to hormonal health because it is so entwined with many of your body’s systems. Hormonal imbalances can manifest in varied ways, impacting nearly every aspect of your well-being. You might notice: 

  • persistent fatigue that doesn't seem to lift with rest or exercise

  • unexpected  weight fluctuation  

  • mood swings that catch you and loved ones off guard 

  • shifts in your sleep patterns that are hard to explain 

These symptoms are your body's way of signaling that your hormones may be out of sync. Recognizing these signs early and discussing them with your healthcare team is a critical step in managing your graceful recovery and getting back to thriving.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Chemotherapy?

After chemo, many of the body’s systems may need intensive support to return to normal function.  This includes the endocrine system.  Recovery from  hormonal imbalances post-chemotherapy is a gradual process. While some women may begin to feel like themselves a few months after treatment, others may find it's a longer road to feeling balanced. Understanding that this process is a journey of the body recalibrating itself is crucial for setting realistic expectations for your recovery timeline. 

Of course, there are a few key considerations we can attend to to expedite your recovery:

  1. Nutrition:  Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can provide the necessary nutrients to support hormone balance. Foods known for their hormone-balancing properties, such as flax seeds and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, etc.) are beneficial. When you are starting to feel stronger, a gentle cleanse to clear the toxins from chemo can be really helpful–feel free to contact me if you have questions or interest in this!

  2. Relaxation:  Stress-reducing practices like  yoga, meditation and deep breathing lower cortisol levels and support overall hormonal health. While not everyone sees exercise as relaxing it helps balance hormones by reducing stress, improving sleep, and enhancing metabolic function. Even though life goes on during and after cancer, and things can be hectic, it is essential to spend 2 hours each day on your self care for optimal healing.

  3. Sleep:  Getting sufficient, quality sleep is crucial for hormonal balance. The body repairs itself and regulates hormone production during sleep, so establishing a regular sleep schedule and sticking to it best you can is crucial. 8-10 hours, minimum - you deserve it.

Additional Support for Hormonal Imbalances After Chemotherapy

For some survivors, navigating the path to hormonal balance after chemotherapy can require a more intensive approach beyond lifestyle and nutrition changes. Because most breast cancers are Estrogen or Progesterone positive, we do not have the easy option of just replacing hormones that are out of balance.  The good news is that there are safe, effective, cancer-fighting natural options that can help you get back into balance.

If this is something you’re considering in your care plan, it’s essential that you have a relationship with healthcare professionals who specialize in post-cancer care and hormone health. These specialists offer a range of integrative approaches, ensuring that any medical intervention is carefully considered within the context of your overall health and recovery background.  If you don’t have someone on your team already, I’m here to help. 

Taking The Next Steps In Your Recovery Journey

Knowing how to navigate your hormone health post-chemotherapy is an essential element of your recovery. If well handled, you’ll see improvements to your quality of life and overall health. The symptoms and strategies discussed here are a great starting point for supporting your hormonal balance. 

For those seeking to deepen their understanding and take proactive steps towards long-term hormonal health, I am offering the Foundations of Hormone Health course live! Join us to gain more insights, connect with peers, and develop a personalized plan for your hormone health journey. This class will be on  Sunday, March 10th 6:30-8pm. It’s only $25, so sign up today and give yourself the gift of more knowledge. 

Your path to thriving starts here.

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