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MenoPause Blog

  • In younger women, HT does not harm cognitive function

    by Margery Gass | Jul 03, 2013
    The WHIMSY trial released somewhat reassuring data last week:  for women ages 50 to 55, using hormone therapy (HT) will neither harm nor benefit their cognitive function.  WHIMSY examined 1,272 Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) participants who were ages 50 to 55 when they began taking HT or placebo and reported on their cognitive health about 7.2 years after they stopped the medication.

    In some ways, this data was disappointing, as it did not support the “window of opportunity” theory that taking HT close to menopause maintains and benefits health. However, this theory does have evidence of benefit regarding women’s risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, heart attack, and atherosclerosis.

    Here at NAMS, we counsel that the decision of whether to take HT must be individualized for each woman, considering her overall health, severity of symptoms, quality-of-life priorities, and personal risk factors. We know that the risks of HT use in healthy women ages 50 to 59 are low. In older women, however, HT is associated with greater risks: A related WHI trial (WHIMS) found that HT use in women ages 65 to 79 caused a near doubling of rates of dementia, higher rates of cognitive decline over time, and decreased brain volume.

    The bottom line of the new WHIMSY results is that younger women can be reassured that, if they choose to take HT for their symptoms, it will not harm their cognitive function or cause dementia.

    Go comment!
  • It’s not your imagination: menopause memory struggles are real

    by Margery Gass | May 30, 2013
    Memory struggles at menopause are real, showed a study published in our journal Menopause. The study really struck a chord. News stories followed quickly, including two segments on The Today Show. One reason the study got so much attention is that it validated women’s experience. In the first segment on Today, co-anchor Savannah Guthrie interviewed Pauline Maki, PhD, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, who is one of the study authors and a member of the NAMS Board. The message for women, Dr. Maki said, is “You’re a very good judge of how good or how poor your memory is. It’s important that women recognize what they feel can be validated by scientific research, that it's not all in their head.” In the second segment Guthrie interviewed NAMS member Rebecca Brightman, MD, from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, who seconded that message, saying “You’re not crazy. This is real.”

    Dr. Brightman also offered reassurance—this isn’t something you’ll have to live with forever. Other studies have shown that women’s former memory levels usually return after the menopause transition is over, she pointed out.

    While you’re struggling with the problem, try to get enough sleep, because that can play a major role in helping you stay sharp. Use little tricks to help you perform better, such as making notes and lists. And have faith—it’s going to get better.

    The study, “Objective cognitive performance is related to subjective memory complaints in midlife women with moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms,” was published online in May and will be published in the December 2013 print edition of Menopause.
    Go comment!
  • Menopause mind fog—it’s real, it’s normal, and it’s temporary

    by Margery Gass | Sep 12, 2012
    Mood, memory, and menopause really are linked. A memory study recently published in the NAMS journal Menopause showed that women approaching menopause who thought they were having memory problems really did perform worse on tests of attention, working memory, “encoding” (the process of making a memory), and verbal skills and they had more symptoms of depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance than women who said they didn’t have a lot of memory problems. The women who had lower levels of estrogen were the ones who struggled especially with memory encoding. But take heart, the fog will lift. A National Institutes of Health-funded study of thousands of women as they went through menopause showed that the memory problems are worse right before menopause and improve after menopause.
    Go comment!

MenoPause: the blog!

Posts to our Blog are written by NAMS staff members and Dr. Margery Gass. All posts are reviewed and edited by Dr. Gass. We strive to bring you the most recent and interesting information about various aspect of menopause and midlife health. We accept no advertising for our website. We want you to have accurate, unbiased, evidence-based information. 

Margery L.S. Gass, MD, NCMP
NAMS Executive Director

An internationally recognized leader in the field of menopause, Dr. Gass became Executive Director of The North American Menopause Society in 2010. Dr. Gass has been an investigator on numerous research projects, including serving as a principal investigator for the Women’s Health Initiative, and has published and presented on a wide range of topics related to menopause, including osteoporosis, sexual dysfunction, and hormone therapy.

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