A new study suggests that the different stages of menopause can affect cognitive performance up to the postmenopausal period, particularly in women with HIV and in precarious economic circumstances.
Published in the journal Menopause , the results of this study suggest that cognitive declines may begin as early as the perimenopause phase (the onset of menstrual irregularity) and continue into the postmenopause period, that is, after menstruation has stopped for good. This cognitive dysfunction would thus occur independently of other known menopausal symptoms such as depression, anxiety and hot flashes.
Several previous research studies have been conducted specifically on memory loss associated with menopause. But, note the authors of the work, many of them describe these cognitive changes during perimenopause (the average duration of which is estimated at 4 years), which suggests that these cognitive problems could be resolved in the post-menopause period.
However, this new study of more than 440 low-income women, some of whom are HIV-positive, shows that difficulties in remembering everyday things or learning disabilities persist even after menopause.
According to the researchers, this prolonged duration of cognitive decline could be explained by the socio-economic situation of the participants, as well as their state of health. Indeed, the medical literature confirms that factors such as HIV, a precarious economic situation, a low level of education, addictions, high levels of stress or limited access to quality health care can promote the risk of cognitive dysfunction.
"This study, which included a racially diverse sample of low-income women and women with HIV, adds to existing literature on cognitive changes across the menopause transition and showed a significant cognitive decline in learning and memory that persisted into postmenopause. Additional research is needed to confirm these findings and to identify the factors responsible for individual differences in cognitive changes," outlined Dr Stephanie Faubion, medical director North American Menopause Society, which conducted the study.