You may have been taught about the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in health class. Your teacher may also have covered what to expect when you’re pregnant. However, menopause is one of the biggest changes your body goes through and symptoms and side effects are still stigmatized. It’s estimated that 75% of people who are menopausal also experience symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. But is there a link between menopause and forgetfulness? You may have heard of baby brain but a new study has suggested that your focus and memory may be affected once you hit perimenopause.
The average age that people go through menopause is 51. This is defined as when you haven’t had a period for a full 12 months. This is a transition that can last up to 15 years in some cases as some people start to experience perimenopause in their thirties. While some symptoms of menopause have been well documented, a new study has suggested that as you go through each stage it may affect your memory and concentration differently. Research published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) said that, while it’s assumed that your cognitive ability changes over time, menopause may play a big factor in this.
Researchers spoke to a representative group of 440 women at different stages in perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause. It’s the first of its kind to look at the effect menopause can have on your memory at different stages. It concluded that memory and focus change in each stage and continue to change well into postmenopause.
“This study, which included a racially diverse sample of low-income women and women with HIV, adds to the existing literature on cognitive changes across the menopause transition and showed a significant cognitive decline in learning and memory that persisted into postmenopause,” said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director in a statement, “Additional research is needed to confirm these findings and to identify the factors responsible for individual differences in cognitive changes.”
Changes in memory and focus can be hard to measure because no two people are the same and people experience menopause differently. Studies have highlighted that memory declines with age anyway. However, this may have something to do with your hormones. Research published in 2014 reported that a decline in estrogen during perimenopause could be linked to a decline in verbal memory. Another study identified trouble with forgetfulness and concentration in people during perimenopause and menopause.
MORE FOR YOU
It’s tough to measure cognitive changes because no two people age in exactly the same way. It’s almost impossible to pinpoint if memory and focus are affected by transitioning to menopause solely or if it’s part of getting older.
Perimenopause and menopause have both physical and mental effects. 80% of people have reported experiencing some form of hot flash making it one of the most common symptoms. Similarly, night sweats and mood changes have been linked to perimenopause. This can cause mental and emotional fatigue.
If you find that you’re repeating questions, forgetting common words or everyday objects then you may consider speaking to your doctor. Reading, playing an instrument and doing word and number puzzles are proven ways to test your cognitive abilities. However, studies suggest that changes in memory and focus may be impacted by perimenopause.