Menopausal memory problems

Many women describe memory problems during the menopause - and new research has suggested these difficulties may be just as they seem. Scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center and the University of Illinois at Chicago found females often experience bouts of forgetfulness or 'brain fog' when their bodies go through this process.

Published in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society, the study served to validate the cognitive changes in the body reported by ladies during this phase of their life.

Miriam Weber, a Neuropsychologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, noted the findings show to women that others have been through what they are experiencing.

Ms Weber stated: "If a woman approaching menopause feels she is having memory problems, no one should brush it off or attribute it to a jam-packed schedule."

The investigation saw 75 females between the ages of 40 and 60 put through an array of cognitive assessments and quizzed on menopause symptoms that are associated to anxiety, depression and other psychological conditions.

Professor Myra Hunter, a Chartered Psychologist and Fellow of the British Psychological Society, commented: "There has been much interest in the possible effects of oestrogen upon memory and cognitive function over the past ten years, with the implication that hormone therapy might prevent cognitive decline and dementia.

"While some studies suggest changes in some measures of cognition during the menopause, in general these tend to be small and transitory. This study includes both cognitive testing and subjective memory reports and suggests that working memory (which requires the simultaneous storage and processing of information for a very restricted period of time, and is a predominantly attentional function dependent on frontal and parietal brain regions) and attention, but not episodic or verbal memory, was associated with reports of subjective memory problems in perimenopausal women.

"They did not find a relationship between hormone levels and subjective memory complaints or objective memory performance - a finding that is consistent with several previous prospective studies.

"Moreover, memory complaints during the transition are also strongly associated with depression, somatic complaints and sleep disturbance.

"Further research is needed with objective and subjective measure over time. However, the use of hormone therapy to prevent or alleviate cognitive decline at any age is not recommended."