Marriage Matters

Menopause and Cognitive Decline

This article was posted on: September 17, 2019

Most woman over the age of 45 will tell you that they have noticed some cognition issues like walking into a room and asking themselves, “now what did I come in here for”. By 50 almost all women will tell you that their thinking is less crisp and fuzzier. Why is this? 

According to a study recently reported in Medscape Medical News, hormonal changes resulting from menopause have a negative effect on cognition. As a woman’s reproductive hormones begin to wane, so does her ability to think quickly and clearly.

In this study, researchers wanted to see if the cognitive decline was more or less pronounced in women who went into menopause early because of a hysterectomy or chemotherapy. The results showed that the earlier age at surgical or chemical menopause, the steeper the slope of global decline. In fact, each year of earlier menopause was similar to the cognitive effects associated with 6 months of aging. 

The hypothesis for the shown decline is that, unlike the natural process of menopause, a surgical or chemically induced menopause results in a very abrupt withdrawal of estrogens from the ovaries. This rapidity along with the earlier timing of the withdrawal is likely the cause of the cognitive decline.

The researchers did note that women who undergo an early menopause should talk with their doctors about various hormonal replacement therapies and evaluate the risks with the benefits of this medical intervention.

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