Does menopause cause forgetfullness and lack of concentration?

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A new study suggests that menopause can cause a decline in cognitive function and may persist into the postmenopause period

The study, published in Menopause the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), involved more than 440 primarily low-income women of colour and concluded that menopause can affect cognitive performance and persist into postmenopause, affecting learning and memory.

Previous studies did not characterise the duration of cognitive changes, but researchers theorised that the difference in results could be explained by the fact that this newer study included more low-income women with multiple risk factors, including the presence of HIV.

Risk factors

Earlier investigations have confirmed that cognitive function is compromised by a range of risk factors, including HIV, poverty, low education, substance abuse, high levels of stress, limited access to quality healthcare, mental health problems, and medical comorbidities.

This latest study is the first to assess changes in cognitive performance across menopause stages and specifically showed cognitive declines over time in learning, memory, and attention from premenopause to early perimenopause and from premenopause to postmenopause.

“This study, which included a racially diverse sample of low-income women and women with HIV, adds to existing literature on cognitive changes across the menopause transition and showed a significant cognitive decline in learning and memory that persisted into postmenopause. Additional research is needed to confirm these findings and to identify the factors responsible for individual differences in cognitive changes,” says Dr Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

Results are published in the article “Cognitive changes during the menopausal transition: a longitudinal study in women with and without HIV.”


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