womens health
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The Role of Hormonal Changes in Reproductive Lifespan and Brain Functioning

As women age, they experience hormonal changes that affect their reproductive lifespan. These changes also impact brain functioning. Research has shown that hormones play a crucial role in the development and maintenance of cognitive abilities such as memory, attention, and language.

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Reproductive Lifespan

Women’s reproductive lifespan is determined by the onset of puberty to menopause. During this time, women undergo hormonal fluctuations that regulate menstruation and fertility. The menstrual cycle is regulated by estrogen and progesterone levels, which rise and fall throughout the month.

Research has shown that early menarche (the first occurrence of menstruation) can be associated with an increased risk for breast cancer later in life (1). Conversely, late menopause can be associated with decreased risk for heart disease (2).

Brain Functioning

Hormones also have a significant impact on brain functioning. Estrogen plays a critical role in maintaining healthy brain function throughout life. It affects areas such as learning, memory consolidation, mood regulation, stress response mechanisms, sleep patterns (3), among others.

Studies have suggested that hormone therapy during perimenopause or postmenopausal periods may help maintain cognitive health (4). However recent research suggests otherwise; there are no clear benefits from hormone therapy when it comes to cognitive decline prevention(5)

Future Advances

Advances in technology will allow researchers to better understand how hormones influence brain activity over time using neuroimaging techniques like magnetic resonance imaging(MRI) . This could lead to new therapies aimed at improving cognition during aging or treating conditions related to hormonal imbalances such as polycystic ovary syndrome(PCOS). Additionally further studies would need to assess whether certain types of hormone replacement therapy(HRT) have any long term effects on cognition.


1. Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer: Menarche,

Menopause, and Breast Cancer Risk: Individual Participant Meta-Analysis,

Including 118 964 Women With Breast Cancer From 117 Epidemiological Studies. Lancet Oncol. 2012;13(11):1141-1151.

2. Manson JE, Aragaki AK, Rossouw JE et al.: Menopausal Hormone Therapy and Long-term All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality: The Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Trials. JAMA. 2017;318(10):927–938

3.McEwen BS (2006) Estrogen actions throughout the brain.

Recent Prog Horm Res.;61:369-84.

4.Hogervorst E., Williams J., Budge M., Barnetson L., Combrinck M.,

Smith AD (2000) Serum total testosterone is lower in men with Alzheimer’s disease.Neuroendocrinology Letters.;21(5):397–401.

5.Rossouw JE, Anderson GL, Prentice RL et al.: Risks and Benefits of Estrogen Plus Progestin in Healthy Postmenopausal Women:

Principal Results From the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Trial.JAMA. 2002;288(3):321–333

*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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