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Does Menopause Affect Memory?
Women come into the so-called menopause at some point in their lives. Does the time of menopause affect memory? Researchers have now found that later menopause is associated with little memory benefit.
In their current study, scientists from University College London found that the timing of the onset of menopause affects memory. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Neurology".
Lifelong hormonal processes affect memory
The results of the study suggest that lifelong hormonal processes, and not just short-term fluctuations during menopause, can be linked to memory skills, says study author Dr. Diana Kuh from University College London.
The investigation had 1,315 subjects
A total of 1,315 women participated in the study, who were part of the Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development in Great Britain. These women have been under medical surveillance since their birth in March 1946. All participants tested their verbal memory skills and cognitive processing speed at the age of 43 and 53, between 60 and 64 and at the age of 69.
What was examined?
The researchers gathered information about age at the onset of menopause (either naturally or due to the removal of the ovaries) and asked if hormone replacement therapy was being given. They also consider other factors that could affect thinking and memory skills, such as cognitive skills, level of education, smoking and the type of employment. Menopause defines the age of the last menstrual cycle. It started on average for women with natural menopause aged 51.5 years.
What did the results look like?
For the verbal memory test, participants were asked to play a 15-point list of words and terms three times with a maximum score of 45. At 43, the participants remembered an average of 25.8 words. At 69, they remembered an average of 23.3 words. The researchers found that among 846 women who experienced menopause naturally, women who later had menopause had higher verbal memory and remembered an additional 0.17 words per year. After the researchers also considered other factors that can affect memory, the difference was 0.09 additional words per year.
More research is needed
The difference in verbal memory values for a menopause that started 10 years later was only slight. But it is possible to use this benefit for a reduced risk of developing dementia, says Dr. Cow in a press release. However, further research is needed to deal with this topic in more detail.
Effects of hormone therapy
The relationship between age at the onset of menopause and memory values is not affected by the use of hormone therapy, the experts explain. In 313 women who had had menopause due to surgery, the relationship between age at the time of surgery and memory values was no longer present when other factors affecting memory were taken into account, the researchers report.
Information processing is not affected
When testing how quickly women could process information, there was no relationship between age at onset of menopause and test results. This difference could be due to the role of the estrogen receptor, which helps consolidate memory formation and information storage, Dr. Cow.
Are there any restrictions in the study?
The limitations of the study were that the tests of memory and processing speed were carried out relatively far apart in time. In addition, no information was available on the dose of women who were taking hormone therapy. (as)