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  • Writer's pictureDr. Catherine Multari ND

Navigating Menopause and Cancer

The average age of menopause in Canada is 51.5 years.  This number can be misleading for some as it does not account for the fact that the perimenopausal transition period, in which women may begin to experience menopausal symptoms, can start up to 10 years prior to the final menstrual period.  It is one year after the final menstrual period that a woman is officially in menopause.  

There is no blood test to confirm if someone is in perimenopause.  Therefore it is best to go off of an in depth, detailed history by a physician which will include discussion around menopausal symptoms.   

What are common signs and symptoms of perimenopause and menopause: 

  • Hot flashes

  • Night sweats

  • New onset sleep difficulties

  • New or exacerbated mood changes

  • Changes in sexual desire and function

  • Joint pain 

  • Forgetfulness

  • Vaginal dryness

  • Changes in menstrual cycle 

  • Absence of menstrual cycle (for 1 continuous year = menopause)

Individuals facing a pre-menopausal cancer diagnosis may enter menopause well before the average age of menopause in Canada.  This may be a result of the following: 

  • Certain cancer treatment medications (i.e. chemotherapy) may induce an early menopause

  • Surgery may be required, to remove the ovaries and uterus which can induce an early menopause

  • Individual’s with a hormone-positive cancer, may be put on hormone-blocking medication, leading to an early menopause

Outside of the bothersome symptoms that may accompany menopause, there are also profound negative health impacts.  Individuals who are postmenopausal (regardless of age) are at increased risk of the following: 

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Osteoporosis

  • Dementia

  • Metabolic syndrome 

  • Mental health concerns

Although Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT) can be helpful for many, in terms of managing symptoms of menopause and decreasing the likelihood of negative health impacts, those facing a hormone-positive cancer diagnosis will not be candidates for MHT. 

As such, I have a few recommendations for individuals going through menopause.  This applies to individuals with or without a cancer diagnosis. 

  • Continue to exercise, with a dedicated focus on weight training and building skeletal muscle mass.  

  • Eat a healthy diet, rich in protein, fiber and a variety of antioxidants (vegetables and fruits). 

  • Maintain strong social connections and engage in community. 

  • Limit the amount of alcohol you are consuming. 

  • Stay up to date with cancer screening (this includes PAP/HPV testing, Mammograms, FIT/Colonoscopy, and Lung CT scans for smokers or those with a history of smoking)

At such a critical point in an individual’s health journey, I would also recommend working with a dedicated health professional that is trained and certified in menopause care (you can find a directory on The Menopause Society webpage).  

Dr. Catherine Multari, ND, FABNO, MSCP is a Fellow of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology and Menopause Society Certified Practitioner.  She practices full-time at Clementine Natural Health, and is currently accepting new patients.

Dr. Catherine Multari, ND Naturopathic Physician

Clementine Natural Health


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