When I started my period at age 10, I definitely wasn’t plotting my future possible breast cancer battle. Now, in my 40s, I realize how much our hormonal roller coaster rides can impact our breast cancer odds. Let’s take a look at the fascinating world of female biology – and then let’s shed some light on how these hormonal fluctuations and their timing can play a role in the risk for breast cancer.
The Arrival of Aunt Flow
You’re minding your own business as a young girl and BAM, your body decides it’s time to enter into womanhood. The struggle is real in this stage – you never know when or where your period might strike an appearance. Your hormones are all over the place! This can continue well into the teenage years – rebellious and unpredictable.
The Monthly Menstrual Show
Now in your twenties and thirties, things have finally (for some) gotten into the full swing. Your period is like clockwork showing up every month – your hormones are starting to even out.
Somewhere in your forties and fifties, your body decides to switch things up again. You become perimenopausal and your hormone levels, particularly estrogen, start to decline. Your menstrual cycle starts to become unpredictable again. You have entered into another transitional time until, finally, your period stops altogether and you enter menopause. The perimenopausal period can last for many years, but if you have gone a full 12 months without a period, it means that you have fully transitioned into menopause.
How the Menstrual Cycle Can Impact Breast Cancer Risk
Breast cancer is a complex disease influenced by various factors, and hormones – particularly estrogen – play a crucial role in its development.
- Early Menarche: Girls who start their period before age 12 are at a slightly higher risk of breast cancer. This is because they are exposed to estrogen for a more extended period over their lifetime. The longer you’re exposed to estrogen, the greater the cumulative dose.
- Late Menopause: Women who experience menopause after age 55 are also at an increased risk. Again, this is due to prolonged exposure to estrogen and progesterone, which can occur when the menstrual cycle continues later into life.
- Irregular Cycles: Menstrual irregularities (infrequent cycles) can indicate hormonal imbalances. Conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can disrupt normal menstrual patterns, leading to higher estrogen levels and potentially an increased breast cancer risk.
Although this crazy hormonal roller coaster is both normal and fundamental to many female experiences, women need to know the significance that it can have on breast cancer risk. It’s also very important to remember that breast cancer risk is influenced by multiple factors, and the menstrual cycle is just one piece of the puzzle.
Are you ready to learn how your menstrual cycle – and all possible risk factors – impact YOUR risk? Gabbi helps women to see and understand the entire puzzle by connecting each risk factor together, which provides a complete picture of your breast cancer risk.
- After answering a few questions about your health, lifestyle, and family history, you will see an individualized risk score.
- Based on your risk level, Gabbi provides an easy-to-understand, personalized, step-by-step action plan that includes information on the type and timing of screening exams that are needed and actions that can be taken to reduce risk.
- Gabbi has an interactive self-breast exam tool that will help women track breast symptoms month to month.
- You will receive notifications when a screening exam is due or when it is time for your monthly self breast exam.
- You will also have free access to ongoing clinical support from Gabbi’s nurse practitioners, who specialize in breast health and can answer all your questions. You can ask questions about breast symptoms, genetic risk, genetic testing, how to schedule mammograms, what your insurance covers, and more!
At Gabbi, our focus is your breast health!
Use code auntflow at checkout for 25% off FULL access to a personalized clinical action plan and 1:1 chats with Gabbi’s care team. Learn more at gabbi.com/pink 💗