womens health

How Menopause Impacts Cognitive Functioning in Women

Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. It usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, with an average age of onset at around 51 years old. While menopause is often associated with physical symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness, it can also have an impact on cognitive functioning.

Research suggests that menopausal women may experience changes in memory, attention span, concentration, and overall cognitive performance. These changes are thought to be due to hormonal fluctuations during menopause.


One area where menopausal women may notice changes is in their memory function. Studies have shown that women going through menopause may experience difficulty remembering things like names or words they used to know easily. This type of memory loss is often referred to as “brain fog” or “menopausal forgetfulness.”

A study published in The Journal of Neuroscience found that estrogen plays a crucial role in maintaining brain function related to learning and memory. As estrogen levels decline during menopause, this can lead to decreased cognitive performance.

Attention Span

Another area where some women may notice changes during menopause is their ability to concentrate for long periods of time. They might find themselves more easily distracted or having trouble focusing on tasks for extended periods.

A study published by The North American Menopause Society found that declining estrogen levels were linked with poorer attentional control among postmenopausal women compared with premenopausal ones.

Overall Cognitive Performance

Studies suggest that overall cognitive performance declines slightly after the onset of natural menopause but not significantly so when adjusted for age-related differences between groups (pre- vs post-menopausal).

The Study Of Women’s Health Across The Nation (SWAN) looked at over 3,000 participants across seven sites throughout America from various ethnic backgrounds who had been followed since before menopause and up to 7 years after. The study found that women who were in the early stages of menopause showed a decline in cognitive performance, but this was not significant when adjusted for age-related differences between groups.

Future Advances on This Topic

While there is still much to learn about how menopause impacts cognitive functioning, researchers are exploring potential treatments or interventions that could help improve these changes.

One area of interest is hormone therapy. Hormone therapy involves taking estrogen or other hormones to replace those lost during menopause. While hormone therapy has its risks and benefits, some studies suggest it may help with certain aspects of cognitive function like memory.

Another area being explored is lifestyle interventions such as exercise and diet changes. A study published by The North American Menopause Society found that aerobic exercise might be beneficial for improving attentional control among postmenopausal women.

In conclusion, while menopause can have an impact on cognitive functioning in women, more research needs to be done to fully understand the extent of these changes. As we continue to learn more about this topic, potential treatments and interventions may emerge that could help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with menopausal cognitive decline.


1) Maki PM et al., (2015). Cognitive Changes At Menopause: A Longitudinal Study Of Memory And Attentional Performance Across The Menstrual Cycle.

2) Bimonte-Nelson HA et al., (2008). Estrogen Restores Multisynaptic Boutons In The Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex While Promoting Working Memory In Aging Rats.

3) Greendale GA et al., (2010). Effects Of The Menopause Transition And Hormone Use On Cognitive Performance In Midlife Women.

4) Weber MT et al., (2014). Aerobic Exercise Improves Cognition For Postmenopausal Women: Results Of A Randomized Controlled Trial.

5) SWAN Study – https://www.swanstudy.org/

*Note: this site does not provide medical opinions or diagnosis and should not be relied upon instead of receiving medical attention from a licensed medical professional.

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1WH staff