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Hormonal treatments for menopausal symptoms

Although hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a very effective treatment for menopausal symptoms, it’s generally not recommended after breast cancer.

Studies of HRT after breast cancer have shown mixed results. We don’t know whether HRT is definitely safe for women who have had breast cancer. The most common forms of HRT are ‘combined HRT’ which contains the hormones oestrogen and progestogen. Some treatments only use progestogen. These treatments are not as effective as those containing oestrogen. We don’t yet know whether it’s safe to take progestogen after breast cancer.

Tibolone treatment

We don’t know whether it’s safe to take tibolone after breast cancer. Tibolone (Livial®) is an alternative to HRT for treating menopausal symptoms. The drug acts in a similar way to HRT but doesn’t contain oestrogen or progestogen. Tibolone may help to improve libido for some women.

Testosterone treatment

We don’t know whether it’s safe to use testosterone after breast cancer. Testosterone is produced by women as well as men. Testosterone levels fall gradually with increasing age and may be reduced by some breast cancer treatments. For some women, reduced levels of testosterone may lead to lower libido and lower energy levels. Hormonal treatments are available to increase testosterone levels.