Not necessarily. Whether or not chemotherapy will send you into menopause depends
on several things — mostly upon your age, but also your state of health, the
location and staging of the cancer, and the type and dosage of chemotherapy you
are receiving. If your body is not close to menopause prior to starting chemotherapy,
your periods may return and you may regain normal ovarian function, provided therapy
hasn’t overly disturbed your ovaries or your endocrine hormone profile.
Because the ovaries can sometimes be damaged by chemotherapy, they may become unable
to produce their usual hormones. A drastic drop in estrogen or changes in overall
hormone levels can provoke menopausal symptoms. After chemotherapy, it may take
months or years for your ovaries to recover normal function.
The closer you are to a menopausal age, the more likely it is that you will notice
menopausal symptoms during chemotherapy, and the more likely it is that your menopause
will be permanent. This is called chemo-induced menopause. Research shows
that chemotherapy–induced menopause occurs in 10–50% of women under
the age of 40 and in 50–94% of women over the age of 40. But again, these
are statistics, and there is certainly wide variation in the effects of chemotherapy
on the female endocrine system.