The results of a long-term study conducted in Taiwan confirm that progression through a natural menopausal transition is not associated with a significant decline in memory or mental functioning.
“Contrary to popular belief, the menopausal transition is not accompanied by a significant [mental] decline,” Dr. Jong-Ling Fuh of Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan told Reuters Health at the 129th annual meeting of the American Neurological Association where she presented the study findings.
In the study, 495 women underwent a battery of widely used memory and cognitive function tests at the beginning of the trial and 18 months later. At entry, all of the women were premenopausal, none were taking hormone replacement therapy, and none had undergone hysterectomy.
During the study, 114 of the 495 women (23 percent) entered menopause.
In general, women entering menopause scored similarly on the various tests of memory and thinking ability as women who had not entered menopause.
The results of the test scores - with the exception of verbal memory - were actually better at follow-up in women who became perimenopausal compared with their [initial] performance,” Fuh reported. Further analyses showed that menopausal transition was a “slight but significant factor” for visual memory decline.
Overall, these findings support those of another long-term study published last year that found no link between entering menopause and memory loss. (See Reuters Health report September 23, 2003).
Fuh emphasized, however, that her study lasted only 18 months and a longer study is needed to evaluate the impact of menopause on mental changes.
Revision date: July 3, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.