A study has confirmed that around
the time of menopause, the fluctuating hormone levels impact memory and other
brain skills of women. However, the good news is that while memory loss is
commonly observed among menopausal women, it is not permanent and unlikely
bring about conditions such as depression.
Dr Miriam Weber, a
neuropsychologist working at the University of Rochester Medical Centre, said
that millions of perimenopausal women, especially those in their late 40s and
early 50s going through a transitional stage, are likely to identify with the
findings of study.
The research has revealed that
the problems are most prominent during the first year of menopause, around
their last period. The average age for women to attain menopause is 50 years.
Symptoms include night sweats, hot flashes, lack of concentration, depression
The recent study involved 117
women who were either perimenopausal or who had already attained menopause.
They were given an array of tasks to do including verbal memory, attention and
The tasks replicated daily tasks
such as learning a phone number by heart, remembering the items on the grocery
list and recalling them in the supermarket, and staying focused on something
for a period of time.
It was revealed that women who
were in the early stages of their post-menopause performed worse than those who
were on the brink of menopause on measures of verbal learning, verbal memory
and fine motor skills.
It was also observed that
symptoms of menopause, such as sleep difficulties, anxiety or depression did
not predict if a woman is predisposed to memory- related issues.
Dr Weber points out that there
exists a possibility of fluctuations or changes of hormone levels being linked
to memory problems. This is because those parts of the brain, which are vital
for verbal memory and processing, are dependent on estrogen, which diminishes
Women who experience these
memory- related problems are usually very frustrated with what they see as
inadequacies. Some of them are terrified that their symptoms could be an
indication of Alzheimer's disease!
It helps these women to manage
their situation better if they realized that their problem is temporary and
above all, normal. Menopause cannot be prevented. But a lot depends on how well
a woman can cope with its symptoms.
Listening to the body,
understanding its needs and limitations, eating sensibly and learning to relax
physically and mentally are some of the sure- tested methods to handling the
changes brought about by menopause.
The results of this study have been published in
the journal "Menopause