There are many people who can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they had their first kiss, or listened to the Beatles for the first time, or other important event. The only problem is they can’t always remember what they ate for breakfast the previous day.
There are many hormone imbalance symptoms in women after menopause. These symptoms can include: briefly forgetting how to get to a familiar place, forgetting appointments or important events, is easily distracted, having trouble prioritizing things or a lack of focus, and other symptoms.
Memory is a complicated process that includes complex and intricate chemical reactions, electrical impulses, changes at the cellular level and many other functions occurring deep within specific areas of the brain. There is long-term, memory and what is called “working memory,” short-term memory that allows the brain to store information that is immediately needed for processing. This might include a mental list of what to pick up at the store, for example.
The problem for many women is that their working memory is impaired after menopause begins. Part of the problem is stress, because stress increases the cortisol level in the bloodstream and can impair working memory as well. So what can be done to help women retain their working memory?
Many studies have been done regarding hormone replacement therapy. A recent study by USC that was published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that estrogen replacement therapy did help prevent and minimize working memory loss under stress in post-menopausal women. The researchers found that estrogen treatment helps protect the working memory needed for short-term cognitive tasks from the effects of stress.
The findings provide new insight into how estrogen treatment after menopause affects memory in women. While more research is needed, it does show that estrogen treatment for menopausal memory symptoms is an effective preventive strategy for other age-related declines as well.
Another study comparing performance on tests of verbal and visual memory showed that women who were receiving hormone replacement therapy performed better than women who were never treated. This Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging (BLSA) also showed that women receiving hormone replacement therapy also had greater relative blood flow increases over a two-year period in areas of the brain that impact memory.
The studies also show that there is a “critical window theory,” which concluded that the sooner women receive hormone replacement therapy after the start of menopause, the better the results. They showed improved memory and function within the hippocampus areas of the brain, which is associated with memory, especially long-term memory.
Hormone replacement therapy is shown to improve memory in post-menopausal women, but it might not be right for everyone. Women should talk to their health care professional to determine if it’s right for them., but the sooner they begin, the better the results.