For some cancer types, hormone therapy may be prescribed. Some hormonal treatments block hormone receptors so the hormones can’t encourage the cancer cells to grow. Others stop or lower the body's production of the hormones.
Side Effects of Hormonal Therapy
When a person is prescribed hormone-based medications as a way to control the disease or prevent recurrence, these medications may have side effects. Many people who take these hormone-based medications find their mood affected, women may experience menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes (even if they are post-menopausal), and may find their bodies prone to gain weight. Vaginal dryness, impotence, and other sexual side effects can occur for men and women. This can be traumatic in a romantic relationship and may require a serious commitment to finding new forms of intimacy.
Logistically, you can help simply by finding ways to remind your loved one to take the oral hormone medications, or by quietly staying with them if they feel out-of-sorts. You can always ask what you can do to help your loved one feel better or find ways to lighten the situation and have a little fun (go to the movies, take a walk, go out with friends — anything to take the focus off of physical discomfort).
Hormonal Therapy and Caregiving
Hormonal therapy can make a person irritable and not always pleasant to be with. As with chemotherapy, this can be challenging to an intimate or close relationship. You may help your loved one deal with hormonal therapy side effects when you:
- Encourage open and honest discussion, even if it might feel embarrassing.
- Suggest that your loved one keep a notebook to record side effects so that he or she can more effectively communicate with the doctor and find remedies to help.
- Be open and honest about your own needs, especially if you’re in a romantic relationship.
- Be willing to work together to find new and creative expressions of intimacy.