Study finds development of dementia in women linked to premature menopause

These are data from a study conducted by Wenting Hao, a doctoral student at Shandong University in Jinan, China.

They present the possibility of a link between early menopause and the propensity for the development of dementia in women.

Read on to find out what premature menopause is, what the connection is, and what symptoms to look out for.

What is premature menopause?

As a rule, menopause begins between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age of a woman being 51 (data for Western countries).

Menopause is considered premature when it occurs before the age of 40, and early when the definitive cessation of hormone production by the ovaries and of menstruation occurs between the ages of 40 and 45.

Early menopause is different from pre-menopausewhich begins 10 years before menopause and causes menopause-like symptoms.

Rather than the disappearance of menstruation, premenopausal women experience, among other signs, a shortening of the menstrual cycle.

Early menopause and dementia: what is the connection

According to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s 2022 conference, which included a sample of more than 153,000 British women, there may be a link between premature menopause and the risk of dementia.

Among the results of the study, it was observed that women who entered menopause before age 45 were 35% more likely to be diagnosed with dementia praecox at age 65. Some of the causes of premature menopause, similar to those of early menopause, include autoimmune diseases, family history, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, smoking, HIV and AIDS, and surgery to remove the ovaries and breasts. ‘uterus.

According to LloydJones, professor of preventive medicine, medicine and pediatrics at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, this association underscores the importance of underlying environmental and health behaviors that may be the cause of early menopause. , and should be analyzed. .

Study author Wenting Hao adds, however, that the study results may be linked to a decrease in estrogen levels that are characteristic of menopause. “We know that a long-term lack of estrogen increases oxidative stress, which can accelerate brain aging and lead to cognitive impairment,” says Hao.

What are the symptoms of menopause?

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Some of the most common symptoms of menopause include:

irregular periods

Menopause occurs when the ovaries stop producing hormones, which first causes irregular menstruation before disappearing altogether. Often the woman experiences menstrual changes, such as increased or decreased flow, variation in frequency, and change in duration of menstruation. This irregularity, known as perimenopause, can last for months or even years.

Hot flashes and night sweats

Before and during menopause, for a few years, a woman may experience sudden hot flashes, usually on the face, neck, or chest, flushing of the skin and rapid heartbeat, and uncomfortable sweating. When they occur at night, hot flashes can trigger night sweats.

Sleep deprivation and mood swings

Difficulty sleeping or lack of restful sleep can be a sign that menopause is approaching. Due to hormonal changes, irritability, fatigue, and anxiety may also occur.

Vaginal and skin dryness

Due to the reduction in estrogen levels, there is a reduction in the production of vaginal mucus which can cause itching, pain or discomfort during sex. For the same reason, the skin can also become drier, thinner and duller.

loss of sexual desire

Some women experience a decreased desire for intimate contact, due to hormonal changes.

Urinary incontinence

The reduction in estrogen changes the characteristics of the urethra, making it thinner and less flexible and can cause urine to leak.

memory problems

Estrogen is also linked to cognitive functions related to learning, concentration, and memory. With the decrease in the levels of this hormone, the woman may experience changes in these abilities.

weight gain

Reducing estrogen levels, by decreasing metabolism and calorie consumption, can lead to increased body weight.

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