Study: "Menopause brain" a reality

Study finds poor performance on memory, thinking tests

It's the study making millions of women say "a-ha!" Along with hot flashes and night sweats, women can now add memory loss to the long list of symptoms associated with menopause.

A small study of just 68 menopausal women, ages 44 to 62, found those with more severe, frequent hot flashes performed poorly on memory and thinking tests.

The study was published in this month's medical journal "Menopause".

Many felt they were in a bit of a "brain fog" and though most still scored within normal range of thinking and memory, they weren't imagining things. Their minds just weren't what they used to be.

Study co-author Professor Pauline Maki told the Today Show, "You're a very good judge of how good or how poor your memory is. It's important that women recognize that what they feel can be validated by scientific research and that it's not all in their head."

Dr. Ronald Young is co-director of The Menopause Center at the TCH Pavilion for Women.

In reading the study, he told Local 2, "It wasn't too surprising, to be honest with you, because having spent a lot of my practice dealing with menopausal women, we hear this over and over and over again."

He said more research needs to be done on the link between menopause and memory loss and whether other symptoms of menopause such as lack of sleep, depression and anxiety are contributing factors.

"I think there's plenty of evidence that hormone replacement can do away with a lot of those symptoms, and make that aspect of your life a lot better," said Young. "Whether they improve your cognitive functions and your memory still remains to be seen."

Dr. Young said until more research is done, he advises women to keep as mentally active as possible, whether it's Sudoku, crosswords, or even making lists and notes.

The good news is researchers say the memory loss seems to fade once menopause ends.

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