TUESDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- The memory blips and distractible moments that women say they experience during menopause may be as real as the hot flashes and poor sleep, a new study suggests.
Researchers gave women who said they were experiencing "menopause fog" a series of cognitive tests to see how well their abilities matched their complaints. Sure enough, the women who felt they had more memory problems were also the ones who did not keep track of information or maintain their focus as well.
"The main point of this study is that women are really good monitors. If a woman says, 'I'm having memory problems,' she probably is," said study co-author Pauline Maki, director of Women's Mental Health Research in the department of psychiatry at University of Illinois at Chicago.
On the other hand, people with age-related mental decline do not usually identify the problem, suggesting the memory issues in this study are not just because the women are getting older, Maki added.
The study, published in March in the journal Menopause, could help women and their doctors appreciate the reality of menopause fog. "I think some attribute it to, for example, poor sleep because of hot flashes, or poor mood, and that's why it's helpful to have these analyses," Maki said.
Previous research has found that about two-thirds of women going through menopause describe memory problems.
The current study involved 75 women who rated their memory performance based on factors like how often they forgot details and how serious their forgetfulness was. Researchers also gathered information about the women's overall health, mood and hormone levels.
The women in the study were going through an early stage of menopause called perimenopause, meaning they were having less frequent periods and beginning to experience symptoms of menopause. The participants were between 40 an
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