What Was I Going to Say?

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: June 25, 2010

I admit to tearing up reading Hallmark cards, and having numerable menopausal symptoms. But the one, I have the most problem with is memory loss. This is top, on my list as an annoying symptom. I actually feel that I am in the “Spring of my senility” at times. I make light of it as I think of the list of women probably experiencing the same thing as I am. Let’s see, Sally Field, Cher, Meryl Streep, Twiggy, and Goldie Hawn. I wonder if they have memory malfunctions and/or feel their mind was lost in the Bermuda Triangle since entering menopause?

Since the onset of menopause, I admit there are more post it notes around my house and office than ever before. I now live by lists and I fully recognize that if it isn’t written down, it does not exist. Another strange phenomenon is while in conversations with friends, I sometimes have to stop to think – what was I going to say?

I wonder is this memory malfunction mental pause, am I developing Alzheimers, or could this problem be dementia? I’ve also spoken with a lot of women, and they too have shared their stories about their memory malfunctions. For instance, not being able to recall names, walking in a room and forgetting what they went there for; or not being able to remember directions, just to name a few.

For those of us who can’t recall names or telephone numbers as easily as we used to, don’t worry. We’re not experiencing signs of “dementia”. It is most likely caused by our aging brains. Many of our menopause symptoms are attributed to declines in estrogen levels but it is not entirely understood what role estrogen plays in our concentration problems and forgetfulness.

We do know that menopause causes our hormones to fluctuate which may contribute to memory malfunctions. Once our hormones are stabilized, many of these malfunctions improve. And, as Red Hot Mamas expert Dr. Mary Jane Minkin says, “You can be reassured that the fuzzy thinking, memory lapses and decline in cognitive powers that many women feel around the time of menopause do not usually signal the beginning of serious dementia”.

And, there is some good news for women who are considering hormone therapy. A recent study presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Meeting (held April 28-May 5, 2007) revealed women who use hormone therapy before 65 years old could cut their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

The study was part of the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study where researchers examined women’s cognitive health over about 5 years. It found that those who used any form of estrogen hormone therapy before the age of 65 were almost 50 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s or dementia than those who didn’t use any hormone therapy before age 65.

So what should we take from this news? It’s still complicated. More research needs to be conducted. For now, we must still follow FDA guidelines. Currently, the FDA recommends hormone therapy be used by postmenopausal women who have moderate to severe hot flashes or night sweats. But, beginning therapy early is having more and more appeal as results from studies like these are promising.

For more information on menopause and cognitive function, read these articles:

Cognitive Symptoms of Menopause

Memory and Menopause: Is There a Connection?

Log onto our Bulletin Board – chat with others experiencing menopause.

References:

“Estrogen Use Before 65 Linked to Reduced Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease” American Academy of Neurology Press Release, May 2, 2007.

Gardner, A. , Hormone Therapy May Protect Against Alzheimer’s: HealthDay News, 2 May 2007.

Minkin, M. J. , 2005, A Woman’s Guide to Menopause and Perimenopause: Yale Univeristy Press. pp. 122-123.

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