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Study suggests that menopause affects a woman's memory - especially if accompanied by hot flashes

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 24th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A new medical study suggests that women undergoing menopause do suffer memory issues, especially if their condition is accompanied by hot flashes. As published in the journal Menopause, the study proved that there is a direct link between hot flashes and memory problems.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University in Chicago. Scientists tested the attention and recall of 68 women.

All of the test subjects were between the ages of 44 and 62; each one was experiencing at least 35 hot flashes a week. The women were also asked to complete questionnaires about their menopause symptoms, mood and memory.

The study found that women who had the most hot flashes performed poorly on memory tests. Furthermore, the worse the hot flashes the longer the period of memory loss. These findings were backed up on previous research on menopause-related memory loss.

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York had previously found that fluctuating levels of female hormones can affect the memory. Women tend to be worst affecting during the first year of the menopause. Researchers also discovered that the effects are unlikely to be permanent.

Another previous study revealed that people who are overweight, smoke or drink heavily are more likely to suffer unpleasant symptoms during the menopause.

Researchers at the University of Queensland also found that women with unhealthy lifestyles are more likely to experience menopausal night sweats. Well-educated women were found to be less likely to develop these symptoms.

Characteristic symptoms of the menopause include hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and irregular periods.

It must be stressed that there are also many symptoms that relate to hormones during the two to three years preceding the menopause (the "peri-menopause"), says Professor John Studd, a consultant gynecologist at the London PMS and Menopause Clinic.

Among the other reported problems are headaches, formication of the skin, which is an itchy sensation like crawling insects - and thinning hair and skin, as well as memory problems, brain fog, confusion, depression and the inability to concentrate.

Not everyone will experience these symptoms, Studd adds as it depends how sensitive they are to estrogen and progesterone.

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