New study examines premature menopause and effects on later life cognition

May 7, 2014

Premature menopause is associated with long-term negative effects on cognitive function, suggests a new study published today (7 May) in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BJOG).

The average age of menopause is around 50 years in the Western World. Premature menopause refers to menopause at or before 40 years of age, this could be due to a bilateral ovariectomy, (surgically induced menopause)or non-surgical loss of ovarian function (sometimes referred to as 'natural' menopause).

The study, based on a sample of 4868 women, used and clinical dementia diagnosis at baseline and after two, four and seven years and aimed to determine whether premature menopause can have an effect on later-life cognitive function. The effects of the type of menopause, whether natural or surgical, and use of hormone treatment were also examined.

Of the 4,868 women in this study, natural menopause was reported by 79% of the women, 10% as a surgical menopause and 11% of women reported menopause due to other causes, such as radiation or chemotherapy. Around 7.6% of the women in the study had a premature menopause and a further 12.8% an early menopause (between the ages of 41 and 45 years). Over a fifth of the women used hormone treatment during the menopause.

Results show that in comparison to women who experienced menopause after the age of 50, those with a premature menopause had a more than 40% increased risk of poor performance on tasks assessing verbal fluency and visual memory and was associated with a 35% increased risk of decline in psychomotor speed (coordination between the brain and the muscles that brings about movement) and overall cognitive function over 7 years. There was no significant association with the risk of dementia.

Furthermore, both premature ovarian failure and premature surgical menopause were associated with a more than two-fold risk of poor verbal fluency. In terms of visual memory, premature ovarian failure was associated with a significantly increased risk of poor performance, and there was a similar trend for premature surgical menopause.

When the potential modifying effect of using hormone treatment at the time of premature menopause was examined, there was some evidence that it may be beneficial for , but it could increase the risk of poor verbal fluency.

Dr Joanne Ryan, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Neuropsychiatry: Epidemiological and Clinical Research, Hospital La Colombiere, Montpellier, said:

"Both premature surgical menopause and premature ovarian failure, were associated with long-term negative effects on cognitive function, which are not entirely offset by menopausal hormone treatment.

"In terms of surgical menopause, our results suggest that the potential long-term effects on cognitive function should form part of the decision-making process when considering ovariectomy in younger ."

Pierre Martin Hirsch, BJOG deputy editor-in-chief added:

"With the ageing population it is important to have a better understanding of the long term effects of a premature menopause on later-life cognitive function and the potential benefit from using menopausal .

"This study adds to the existing evidence base to suggest can have a significant impact on cognitive function in later life which healthcare professionals must be aware of."

Explore further: Conventional versus intensive T1DM tx not tied to menopause

More information: J Ryan, J Scali, I Carrière, H Amieva, O Rouaud, C Berr, K Ritchie, ML Ancelin. The impact of menopause on cognitive function in later life. BJOG 2014; 10.1111/1471-0528.12828

Related Stories

Conventional versus intensive T1DM tx not tied to menopause

January 9, 2014
(HealthDay)—For women with type 1 diabetes, intensive versus conventional treatment is not associated with menopause risk, although greater insulin dose is associated with lower natural menopause risk, according to research ...

Early surgical menopause linked to declines in memory and thinking skills

January 14, 2013
Women who undergo surgical menopause at an earlier age may have an increased risk of decline in memory and thinking skills, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's ...

Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

April 16, 2014
A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause ...

Thinking skills take biggest hit from anxiety in midlife women with HIV

February 8, 2014
Hot flashes, depression, and most of all, anxiety, affect the thinking skills of midlife women with HIV, so screening for and treating their anxiety may be especially important in helping them function, according to a study ...

Study ties early menopause to heart attack, stroke

September 28, 2012
Women who experience early menopause are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than women whose menopause occurs at a later age, according to a new study by Melissa Wellons, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine in ...

Recommended for you

Study shows a significant ongoing decline in sperm counts of Western men

July 25, 2017
In the first systematic review and meta-analysis of trends in sperm count, researchers from the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai ...

Women exposed to smoke while in womb more likely to miscarry

July 13, 2017
Women exposed to cigarette smoke while in their mothers' wombs are more likely to experience miscarriage as adults, according to new research from the University of Aberdeen.

Lack of a hormone in pregnant mice linked to preeclampsia

June 30, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers from Singapore, the Netherlands and Turkey has isolated a hormone in pregnant mice that appears to be associated with preeclampsia—a pregnancy-related condition characterized by ...

Aspirin reduces risk of pre-eclampsia in pregnant women

June 28, 2017
Taking a low-dose aspirin before bed can reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia, which can cause premature birth and, in extreme cases, maternal and foetal death.

The biology of uterine fluid: How it informs the fetus of mom's world

June 22, 2017
A developing fetus bathes in a mixture of cellular secretions and proteins unique to its mother's uterus. Before fertilization, the pH of uterine fluid helps create a conducive environment for sperm migration, and afterward, ...

New clues in puzzle over pre-eclampsia and cholesterol regulation

June 21, 2017
Scientists studying a mystery link between the dangerous pregnancy complication pre-eclampsia and an increased risk of heart disease in later life for both mother and child have uncovered important new clues.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.