TODAY   |  May 28, 2013

Doctor: Menopause memory loss ‘is real’

Dr. Rebecca Brightman of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the North American Menopause Society offers her perspective on a new study focusing on memory loss during menopause, outlining some of the symptoms.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> dr. rebecca brightman is a clinical director of object stet contribution and gynecology of the north american menopause society. good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> is this something you hear about from your patients a lot, i don't feel i have the same memory i used to or forgetting everything?

>> all the time. and patients come into my office for regular exams and approach me and say may i ask you a question, something is really wrong here, i don't remember things, i'm not able to focus as clearly. is it me. people feel isolated, like they're going through this a loan.

>> and now this study basically value dates that feeling. if nothing else, science is saying, okay, women , you're not crazy, this is real.

>> it is real. and i think a lot of people will really be comforted by the fact that actually researchers have taken this seriously. they look to this group, all be it a small group , and really validated the fact that women do have symptoms, clearly correlates with their ability to perform on certain cognitive tests .

>> it sounds like the research found that those with hot flashes or severe hot flashes tended to have more memory loss . do we know there is a connection there?

>> well, the interesting thing, women who have hot flashes have trouble sleeping and we know that sleep disturbances carry over to the following at a and can can interfere with one's ability to function, concentrate, learn, recall certain things. so definitely. the other thing that was interesting in this study, they actually looked at women and their depressive symptoms and anxiety, which really goes along with being peri menopausal, and these correlate with changes in cognitive function .

>> it sounds like we're not clear that menopause is a direct connection to the memory loss , but maybe menopause is causing these other effects like depression or sleeplessness that have the secondary effect of the memory loss .

>> well, correct. and i think there is some age-related changes, as well. i think one thing that does seem to be reassuring, not necessarily in this study but other studies is the fact that while women are undergoing some concerning feelings while they're making this transition, when they're done with menopause and post menopausal, there tends to be a return to baseline, and i think that's reassuring.

>> one thing i've heard a lot from young moms, as well, they feel they lose their memory. they call it momnesia. any correlation or are they different things?

>> in general, we consider them to be different things, but they very well may have overlap, because during pregnancy, there are hormonal changes, and the same is true with being peri menopausal and menopausal and in both stages of lives, hormone fluctuations, sleep deprivation and mood changes .

>> while on the subject, some people think it applies only to much older women , but, in fact, these symptoms can can can often start in your 40s and what kind of symptoms are you most likely to see first?

>> most interesting thing, women can can still have regular menstrual periods, before their final period, which defines menopause. it's not unusual for me in my practice to see women in their early 40 to complain of issues sleeping, memory recall, inability to concentrate. i think there is a whole spectrum. and while the study looked at women aged 44 to 62, clearly women have these symptoms in their 40s and should be reassured they're not alone.

>> always good to talk to you, doctor, if you've got some of these concerns.

>> absolutely.

>> dr. rebecca brightman, thank you