Women who’ve gone through menopause might have noticed that memory problems have occurred. A new study says memory loss in a woman in her 40s and 50s is real, and it is most significant during the post-menopausal period.
Menopausal women have reported cognitive issues to their doctors for a long time, issues like struggling with a routine mental task or remembering information. This study’s significance lies in the fact that it verifies these feelings as an actual biological effect.
Researchers followed 117 women, at various stages of menopause, who took various cognitive tests. They reported symptoms like hot flashes, sleep disturbance, depression, and anxiety, and they had a blood sample taken. The study analyzed results to see if there were differences in cognitive performance—and if menopausal symptoms came into play.
The cognitive tests studied attention, verbal learning and memory, fine motor skills, dexterity, and “working memory.” This means the ability to not only take in and store new information, but also manipulate it. In daily life, all this contributes to the ability to stay focused, to learn someone’s e-mail address, or to make a mental grocery list and recall the items from that list.
The women in early post-menopausal periods performed worse on measures of verbal learning, verbal memory, and fine motor skills than women in other stages. These could not be accounted for by hormone levels, depression, or sleep problems.
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What this means is that cognitive declines during a woman’s transition out of menopause are a very real situation. It may be something that women can expect to occur, as many might worry they have early-onset Alzheimer’s or other cognitive problems. Learning and retaining new information are performances that occur in the brain’s hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.
Guess what: these two spots in the brain have a ton of estrogen receptors. Thus, they are most susceptible to menopause-related hormone imbalances.
This study also identifies why such memory problems persist, which women are most vulnerable, and when lifestyle changes or therapeutic steps can be taken. And women can rest assured that memory changes during this life period are, in most cases, just going to be temporary.
Sources for Today’s Articles:
Memory Loss: Another Symptom of Menopause
Weber, M., et al., “Cognition in perimenopause: the effect of transition stage,” Menopause, published online January 2, 2013.