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In the journals: Perimenopausal mental lags are real but temporary

Updated: August 01, 2009

In the journals

Perimenopausal mental lags are real but temporary

About 60% of women report problems with memory or learning — so-called mental fog — during perimenopause, the five to seven years leading up to menopause (the end of periods). This cognitive brownout could have a biological basis: brain regions responsible for memory and reasoning are rich in estrogen receptors, so fluctuating hormone levels might well cause cognitive glitches. Hot flashes, sleep loss, depression, and other perimenopausal symptoms may also have an impact on learning and recall. But there's been little good evidence that a woman's mental performance actually declines with the approach of menopause — until now.

According to a study published in the journal Neurology (May 2009), a woman's learning ability does indeed take a hit during perimenopause. The good news is, the problem is relatively minor — on the order of difficulty of remembering the name of someone you've just met — and it's temporary.

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