Menopause May Harm Memory
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Menopause can cause a whole host of unpleasant symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and…memory problems? As a researchers proved in a recent study, women’s cognitive abilities may be affected during the early stages of menopause leading to certain problems with memory.
Researchers discovered the connection by giving 117 women various cognitive tests and analyzing the women’s blood samples for estradiol, which demonstrates estrogen levels, and follicle stimulating.
The women were all separated into four groups: those in the late reproductive stage, those in early menopausal transition, those in late menopausal transition, and those in early post-menopause. The participants were also asked to inform the researchers of any menopause-related symptoms they may have experienced during the study.
In the study, participants who were into the early post menopause stage had more difficulty with tests for verbal learning, verbal memory and fine motor skill than the participants in the other three groups.
Furthermore, menopausal changes such as changes in hormone levels and sleep difficulties didn’t seem to be related to the women’s memory problems.
A possible explanation for why early menopause would hurt women’s memory could be that the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, the areas of the brain important for memory, have many estrogen receptors. Since estrogen levels are significantly affected during menopause, this could cause these areas to function differently or less effectively.
The results could ultimately be used to help women experiencing these difficulties as they enter into menopause.
"By identifying how these memory problems progress and when women are most vulnerable, we now understand the window of opportunity during which interventions – be those therapeutic or lifestyle changes – may be beneficial," study author Miriam Weber, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, was quoted as saying.
Although the onset of menopause may make women’s memory less sharp, the study also points to some reassuring news for those afraid for their cognitive abilities.
“The most important thing that women need to be reassured of is that these problems, while frustrating, are normal and, in all likelihood, temporary," Dr. Weber was quoted as saying.
Source: Menopause, January 2013