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Cognition and Menopause
Changes in cognitive function (mental processes) are commonly reported in people experiencing the menopausal transition. Some studies show that 50-70% of people experience cognitive decline during this period. Typically, we don’t see an overall cognitive decline, but rather deficits in specific cognitive domains such as verbal memory and processing speed. There are likely many reasons that these problems occur during menopause including hormone changes that affect brain structure and function, changes in mood, difficulties with sleep, and hot flashes. For some people, these symptoms are mild and manageable, and can even improve as menopause concludes. However, for others cognitive changes are very troublesome in their day-to-day lives and lead to worry about their long-term brain health.
Early ages at menopause have aligned with worse abnormalities on brain neuroimaging, consistent with harmful effects being without ovarian hormones for long durations. While a much better understanding is needed regarding the causes and trajectory of cognitive problems during menopause, speaking with a cognitive health professional or neurologist and undergoing a neurocognitive evaluation (testing to measure brain function), brain MRI, or genetic testing for risks of Alzheimer’s disease when appropriate can address the concerns people are experiencing and allow for the development of a plan to optimize day-to-day functioning, brain health, and quality of life. At the UCLA Menopause Program, we screen everyone to help identify those that may benefit from speaking with our collaborating cognition specialists. We also offer group workshops for menopause and cognition open to anyone in the program.
Cognition Specialty Providers
Research and Publications
- CleopatraRX, Licensee of UCLA patents with Professor Voskuhl the inventor, treatment of menopausal brain fog.
- Dr. Rhonda Voskuhl receives grant to discover neuroprotective treatments for MS, UCLA Newsroom, May 1, 2023.
- Menopausal hormone changes linked to cognitive deficits - news release and publication.
- Rhonda Voskuhl: basketball and bedside to bench to bedside.