'Brain fog' more common in first year postmenopause

January 10, 2013

A cross-sectional National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported study published in Menopauseshows that changes in cognitive function associated with menopause aren’t linear and, in fact, decline is most common in the first year after the final menstrual period.

 

A cross-sectional National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported study published in Menopauseshows that changes in cognitive function associated with menopause aren’t linear and, in fact, decline is most common in the first year after the final menstrual period.

The aims of the Rochester Investigation of Cognition Across Menopause were to determine if cognitive function differs across stages of reproductive aging and to evaluate whether hormones or menopausal symptoms predict cognition in perimenopause. The 117 middle-aged women enrolled were categorized by reproductive stage based on criteria from the Stages of Reproductive Aging Workshop, with 34 in late reproduction, 28 in early menopause, 41 in late menopause, and 14 in early postmenopause. Most were well educated and more than 90% of participants were white, with mean age of 48.7 years.

Using a battery of neuropsychological tests, 6 domains of cognition were assessed, including verbal learning, verbal memory, and motor function. Menopausal symptoms and serum levels of estradiol and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) were also evaluated and the participants rated their symptoms of depression and anxiety, and their overall health, on questionnaires.

Multivariate regression of the impact of menopausal stage and symptoms on cognition showed that decreases in attention/working memory, verbal learning (P=0.02), verbal memory (P=0.02), and fine motor speed (P=0.03) were most evident in the first year after the final menstrual period. Higher levels of estradiol and FSH were associated only with fine motor speed (P=0.02 for both) but no associations were found between menopausal symptoms and cognitive scores.