For the body to start puberty, it needs ovaries and testicles that work and that are capable of producing hormones. This may be temporarily or permanently damaged by cancer therapy (chemotherapy and radiotherapy). But even if the ovaries and testicles could actually work, the body carefully considers whether it can actually manage to go through puberty. In particular for females, that means whether the female body could theoretically cope with a pregnancy. Therefore, it could be that the body is still too weakened by the therapy and the disease to start puberty. So puberty could well start later and perhaps take longer than what your friends are experiencing. This is particularly the case if you were diagnosed with cancer just before or during puberty. Depending on the situation, you can usually wait until the body has completely recovered and starts producing hormones itself. But puberty should have started for girls at the latest by the time they are 14 and for boys by the time they are 15 to prevent hormone deficiency and above all to protect your bones. But the waiting can be a burden for you, so feel free to talk to a specialist about how long you should wait.
If your ovaries stop working temporarily or even long term, it may be important to help you get through puberty. If the ovaries don’t produce hormones even after this, it may also be necessary to replace the hormones permanently. These hormones are very similar to the body’s own and you won’t suffer any disadvantages because the body is getting what it needs. But it could be that you experience puberty in a slightly different way from your friends. During natural puberty, the ovaries first have to get used to working and so you will experience hormonal fluctuations, increased levels of male hormones will sometimes cause acne or severe mood changes, and you could suffer from irregular or very heavy periods. If you have to take hormones on a regular basis, puberty will take on a more uniform progression. It could well be that you develop a bust and also pubic hair more slowly than others, although this is not always the case. But it is important to know that, long term, there are no physical or health disadvantages for you if you need to take hormones.
There are various reasons for hot flushes and also for vaginal dryness. They don’t necessarily have to mean you have a hormone deficiency. But especially during and even up to a few months after chemotherapy, you may well experience a deficiency of female hormones, as the ovaries often go into a dormant state and produce little or no hormones. And that is regardless of your age. If your ovaries have been severely damaged, the deficiency may persist after your therapy and you may rightly feel as if you are in the menopause. This is something that needs to be clarified (by determining hormones in the blood) because female hormones are very important for bone formation and also for the blood vessels. It could also cause you to suffer and you might have to compensate for the hormone deficiency. This can be taken care of by providing you with natural hormones that replace the missing ones. (See “What is hormone replacement therapy?”)
Hormone replacement therapy ( = HRT) is, as the name suggests, about replacing hormones the body can no longer produce. This is particularly the case with a premature malfunctioning of the ovaries. If an ovary has been damaged to such an extent that it is no longer able to produce hormones, the hormones have to be replaced – oestrogen in particular as it is very important for both the growth and the density of your bones, as well as for your blood vessels. Normally, the ovaries stop producing hormones at some point over the age of 45. If this happens beforehand, however, it is important to replace the missing hormones so that there is no damage to your bones or blood vessels. They are replaced in the form of tablets, patches or a gel for on your skin. These hormones are very similar to the body’s own, but they don’t work as a contraceptive. So in terms of birth control and in the case of a few remaining egg cells, you must use a condom or take the pill as a form of contraception. A doctor should clarify whether this is necessary in your particular case. Health insurance companies cover the costs of HRT. Hormone replacement therapy gives you the choice of having your period suppressed completely or still having a normal monthly cycle. This is also something that should be decided on a case by case basis with an expert.
That is a very difficult question but also one that is so important and a question many people ask themselves!! And there is no simple answer as to how this can be achieved because everyone is different, not only because of different illnesses or therapies, but each individual is looking for something different when it comes to feeling at home again in your own body. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either! This is why it is important to talk about what you need and what your particular ideas and visions are. One thing is certain, though: you are not on your own with these worries and there is way of dealing with them!
This is also a question that bothers a lot of people! And just as difficult to answer for everyone because everyone is different! So it would be wrong to give a quick answer to this question. But we would like to say this much: it is difficult to reveal ourselves with all our flaws, doubts and less than perfect bodies and souls! And that applies to everyone, whether they are cancer patients or not. Revealing yourself as a man or woman effectively means exposing yourself to potential criticism and also rejection. Nobody knows how someone else is going to react and that is something that can initially be quite frightening. That is why it is all the more important to first look at what we like about ourselves and why we think someone else should like us. And what you should always bear in mind is that people decide whether they are going to like someone in the first few seconds when they meet. So what do we focus on in these important first few seconds? Certainly not the size of someone’s breasts, a protruding or small chin…the scars that are usually hidden… the list is endless. Because even if we feel our weaknesses to be obvious and eye-catching, others don’t see them that way, or at least certainly not in those first few decisive seconds. We often go through the world with blinkers on and, through blurred glasses, see only people who don’t have the flaws we feel ourselves to have (whether small, big breasts or short or tall people, with beautiful skin, perfect teeth, etc). We then blot out all the people who have exactly the same problems we have. These are the only ones that are invisible to us… we see all the others who are so much more beautiful and more perfect than we are….So what is it that counts in those first few seconds?? A person’s aura, their eyes, their laugh, their warmth, etc… we only start noticing details when we have made our decision as to whether this is a person we are going to like or not. And the details are already coloured by our initial impression about whether the person appeals to us or not… and all other flaws are thus much less important to us…as a small mind game…but to have the chance to go into more details and, in particular, to be able to examine your particular situation, we would be happy to talk to you and work on this issue…so pluck up the courage to contact us – you are not alone!