Jokes about menopause often get a laugh. But the truth is, if you’re a woman of a certain age, hot flashes and memory issues aren’t very funny. It’s comforting to know that researchers are taking this seriously. Although it’s a small study and needs to be replicated, new findings indicate that menopausal memory lapses are normal.
According to the results of a recent study from the University of Illinois and Northwestern University, concerns about memory are not a figment of a woman’s imagination. Subjects who reported difficulties with memory did not perform as well on objective cognitive tests. And those who had more hot flashes and experienced more negative emotions took longer to solve memory problems.
While this isn’t necessarily what we want to hear, it’s validating for menopausal women who are having these symptoms. Because it’s scary when, all of a sudden, you have trouble concentrating and remembering. You may worry that something is wrong, feeling isolated and alone with your thoughts. Some women doubt themselves and wonder if they have a serious problem. Especially if you have a family history, you may begin to speculate – is this normal age related changes, the beginning of dementia, or early onset Alzheimer’s?
A confounding factor is that the discomfort of hot flashes can cause sleep disturbances. And the loss of sleep often carries over to the next day. Also, hormonal shifts can correlate with mood changes, particularly depression. The results of all of this can be tiredness and problems focusing, which has its own set of issues.
The good news is that, after menopause, the symptoms will likely subside and you’ll return to baseline. Now that the researchers have menopause on their radar, let’s hope the next step is to find solutions to these problems.
Let us know how you’re managing the challenges of your change of life. And log on Thursday for some homespun ideas that may help.