How Menopause May Affect Memory
When a woman reaches her late 40s or 50s, a natural decline in reproductive hormones begins the cycle of menopause. After 12 months without a menstrual cycle, a woman is officially in the state of menopause. During this uncomfortable time many experience hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and even anxiety or depression. A new study from the University of Rochester Medical Center recently found that menopause can affect one’s memory. Along with ample evidence that women suffer memory decline, they uncovered four different profiles of cognitive function which helped researchers to try and understand why some women face memory decline and others do not. With the help of this research, we can understand how to treat or help with this memory loss. Miriam Weber, associate professor of Neurology and Obstetrics and Gynecology, who helped begin this study, explains how important it is to understand the cognitive changes that cause memory changes during menopause.
Study Menopausal Symptoms
The study observed 85 women ranging in age from 40 to 60, in which whom were all approaching menopause, or already experiencing it. Each woman began by self reporting their menopausal symptoms, measured their hormone levels, and for up to nine years took cognitive test bianually. With the research provided, four different cognitive function profiles were uncovered. Women experience normal cognitive, strength in verbal learning and memory, strength in attention and executive function, or weakness in verbal learning and memory. Those experiencing weakness lacked the ability to learn or even retain new information.
It is no surprise that researchers identified those categorized with a strength profile, either in verbal learning and memory or in attention and executive function, experienced less depressive symptoms and hot flashes. Those placed in the group of cognitive weakness were more likely to suffer from those two common side effects. Seeing that cognitive function and physical symptoms go hand in hand helps researchers better understand how our brain and body work together. It is not uncommon to experience a multitude of symptoms, however it is most likely that one’s symptoms directly correlate with their cognitive profile.
Decline in Memory and Cognitive Functions
Within her previous work, Weber found that even before menopause, some women experienced decline in memory and cognitive function. While the declines had no link to women’s hormones, they still appeared close to the start of menopause. Some women faced a new inability to retain new information and understand new concepts, while others had trouble keeping a focus and paying attention to challenging tasks.
Weber explains that from said profile research, doctors can better identify women at risk and help them get treatment before the memory loss begins. With the research being studied, Weber hopes it can even give insight to future diagnoses of say Alzheimer’s disease and who is at risk of development. With women being more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, it is important to catch any cognitive decline before it becomes more serious with growing age.
While menopause brings a difficult time in women’s lives, especially with memory decline and cognitive delays, not all hope is lost. There are several things women can do to help challenge these difficulties and feel some sort of relief. It is important to keep a well balanced diet during menopause, ideally eating high in low-density lipoprotein. Start your day off with a high fiber breakfast like oatmeal or oat bran. Make sure to keep foods like almonds, avocados, and whey protein items to snack on. For dinner, try adding fish like salmon, albacore tuna, and sardines to your routine. It is also important to get enough rest, aiming for around seven to eight hours a night. Most importantly, do not forget to exercise your body and your mind. For physical exercise try joining a walking group, or finding a relaxing workout routine like daily yoga. Exercise your mind by reading books and articles, doing house or yard work, and trying HappyNeuron Pro’s free resources.
Hayduk, K. S. (2021, September 2). The memory changes of Menopause. URMC Newsroom. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/the-memory-changes-of-menopause