According to the newsroom, early Menopause may raise the risk of Dementia later in life. Whereby, compared with women who enter menopause around age 50, women who experience very early menopause (before the age of 40 were found to be 35% more likely to develop some type of dementia later in life, according to a large study of women living in the United Kingdom.
Similarly, women who entered menopause before age 45 were also 1.3 times more likely to develop dementia before the age of 65. In addition, women who entered menopause later, at age 52 or older, had dementia risk similar to women who entered menopause at the average age for menopause onset with is age of 50 to 51 years. So, this calls an alarm for awareness!
Fortunately, Dementia can be prevented, and there are a number of ways women who experience early menopause may be able to reduce their risk of dementia. One thing is for sure, being aware of this increased risk can help women to practice some key strategies. So as to prevent dementia and work with their physicians to closely monitor their cognitive status as they age.
On that note, we know that the lack of estrogen over the long term enhances oxidative stress, which may increase brain aging and lead to cognitive impairment, right? Perse, some researchers suggest that lowered estrogen levels may be a factor in the possible connection between early menopause and dementia. So, what is the way forward? Well, let’s learn more…
Understanding What Dementia Really Is All About
Dementia is a set of symptoms that severely impair memory, reasoning, and social skills when they considerably interfere with daily functioning. Although there isn’t one particular illness that causes dementia, many diseases can. Although memory loss is a common sign of dementia, it can also have many other causes, one of which could be menopause.
Generally speaking, healthcare clinicians who care for women should be aware of a woman’s age at menopause onset. And then, closely monitor for cognitive decline in those who reached menopause before age 45. But, further research is still needed to assess the added value of including the timing of menopause as a predictor in existing dementia models.
Simply put, Dementia involves serious changes in the brain that impair a person’s ability to remember, make decisions and use language. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type, while the second most common is vascular dementia the result of disruptions in blood flow to brain cells caused by strokes or plaque build-up in arteries supplying blood to the brain.
Both of these types of dementia are more common with age. Diseases affecting specific parts of the brain can also lead to dementia, and a person can have dementia due to more than one disease process.
Do you Know?
Age is the leading risk factor for dementia; Women are more likely than males to suffer from an illness like dementia, making up 65% globally. Women who experience early menopause before age 40 are 35% more likely to acquire some dementia later in life. Additionally, dementia before age 65 is 1.3 times more likely in women who reach menopause before age 45.
Dementia is a general term for a decline in cognitive function, including memory, language, problem-solving, and other mental abilities. It is a common condition in older adults. Menopause could be one of the symptoms of dementia and can vary depending on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition.
Menopause is the natural transition that occurs in women when the ovaries stop producing eggs and the production of certain hormones, including estrogen, declines. Common symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, night sweats, irregular periods, and vaginal dryness. Early diagnosis and treatment of dementia are crucial.
But, if we could avoid it entirely, that would be even better. You must be amazed to know! According to research from Japan ( journal Nutritional Neuroscience). A high-fiber diet has lately been linked to a lower risk of dementia development. Still, studies have shown there is no definitive evidence that menopause itself can cause dementia.
How Early Menopause Relates To Dementia
Early menopause, defined as the onset of menopause before age 45, has been associated with an increased risk of developing dementia later in life. However, the exact relationship between the two needs to be better understood, and more research is needed in this area. It’s well known that estrogen is a hormone produced by the ovaries that regulate the menstrual cycle.
And, as such, it may have protective effects on the brain. Therefore, the sudden decrease in estrogen levels during menopause may increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Uniquely, some investigators identified the diagnosis of all types of dementia. Including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and even dementia from other common causes.
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As a matter of fact, they calculated the risk of occurrence in terms of the age at which the women reported having entered menopause. More so, compared with the women who began menopause at an average age of menopause onset. Eventually, which is 50-51 years — 51 years is the average age for menopause onset among women in the U.S. to be precise.
Markedly, the results were adjusted for a variety of key factors. Including but not limited to age at the last exam, race, educational level, cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse, body mass index, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, income, leisure, and physical activities. Realistically, these results found very intriguing statistical data at the end of the investigation process.
The analysis found the following:
- First, women who entered menopause before the age of 40 were 35% more likely to have been diagnosed with dementia.
- Secondly, women who entered menopause before the age of 45 were 1.3 times more likely to have been diagnosed with dementia before they were 65 years old (called presenile or early-onset dementia).
- Thirdly, women who entered menopause at age 52 or older had similar rates of dementia to those women who entered menopause at an average age of menopause onset, which is the age of 50-51 years.
It’s, important to realize, that post-menopausal women are at greater risk of stroke than pre-menopausal women. And, as a result, stroke can disrupt blood flow to the brain and may result in vascular dementia. Be that as it may, in the case study mentioned above, the researchers did not find an association between age at menopause and the risk of vascular dementia.
How Menopause May Lead To Dementia Symptoms
Do you know what causes dementia, and can Menopause cause Dementia symptoms? Well, Premature & Early Menopause is associated with an increased risk of dementia later in life. There could be many reasons regarding the cause. Suffice it to say, one of the reasons may be the result of the sudden decrease in estrogen levels that occurs during menopause.
Obviously, this is because estrogen has been shown to have protective effects on the brain. And other could be women going through perimenopause and menopause experiencing “brain fog,” where they experience symptoms like having hot flashes and forgetting names, appointments, etc. However, it is not necessary. Dementia is the cause behind it.
In a word, there isn’t currently any evidence that menopause causes dementia. And, while there are several possible explanations for why women are more prone to get dementia, one of the leading ones is the estrogen hormone.
However, it is thought that the sudden decrease in estrogen levels during menopause may increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Estrogen has been shown to have protective effects on the brain, and losing this hormone during menopause may contribute to dementia. Furthermore, there are some other notable factors (some illustrated above) that may be the cause.
Such as Genetics, lifestyle, overall health, and the like. It may also play a role in the development of dementia. Could a change in estrogen levels affect the risk of getting dementia? Let’s take a closer look at their relationship below!
The Relation Between Low Oestrogen And Dementia
Estrogen is a hormone produced by the ovaries and plays a role in regulating the menstrual cycle. It has also been shown to have protective effects on the brain. Therefore, a sudden decrease in estrogen levels, such as during Menopause, may increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Notably, serotonin, acetylcholine, and dopamine have key purposes.
It has been observed that they are used to transmit impulses throughout the brain and can also be affected by estrogen. Some Alzheimer’s disease symptoms have been attributed to issues with the acetylcholine signaling pathway, which may be related to low estrogen levels. However, more research is needed to understand the exact possibility of Oestrogen impacts.
Particularly, in order to determine the actual relationship between low estrogen levels and the development of dementia. Furthermore, Dementia shows symptoms much as any other illness does. One should be aware of them, no matter how little! Let’s read out so that we can discover more about this observation: Can Menopause Cause Dementia-Like Symptoms?
Resource Reference: Pregnancy Guide | #6 Ways To Stay Fit Before And After Delivering
To enumerate, Menopause is the natural transition that occurs in women when the ovaries stop producing eggs and the production of certain hormones, including estrogen, declines. Usually, it’s a point in time 12 months after a woman’s last period. The years leading up to that point, when women may have changes in their monthly cycles, hot flashes, or other symptoms.
Thus, this is the main reason why they are called the menopausal transition or perimenopause. The menopausal transition most often begins between ages 45 and 55. In other words, this is a natural decline in reproductive hormones when a woman reaches her 40s or 50s. Common symptoms include hot flashes and vaginal dryness. There may also be sleep disturbances.
The main signs:
- hot flashes,
- night sweats,
- irregular periods,
- vaginal dryness.
It is important to note that menopause is not always a cause of dementia. For one thing, it is a natural process with treatments that focus on symptomatic relief. Vaginal dryness is treated with topical lubricants or Oestrogen. Medications can reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes. In special circumstances, oral hormone therapy may be used.
However, early menopause has been associated with an increased risk of developing dementia later in life. Therefore, if you are experiencing symptoms of menopause and are concerned about your cognitive health, it is recommended that you speak with your doctor for further evaluation and advice. After all, they’ll offer you some of the best measures moving forward.
What Is Its Likelihood During Menopause?
First of all, it’s important to note that the combination of some of the above-mentioned symptoms can cause anxiety or depression. Whilst, bearing in mind, it’s quite difficult to determine the chance of developing dementia during menopause. The exact relationship between the two needs to be better understood, and more research is needed in this area.
Additionally, the likelihood of developing dementia can vary depending on several factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and overall health. While early menopause has been associated with an increased risk of developing dementia later in life, it is essential to note that not all women who experience early menopause will develop dementia.
However, not all women who develop dementia have a history of early menopause. Do you believe in the saying; Prevention is better than cure? Then make sure to read the next section… So that we can discover more together.
How To Prevent Dementia While In Menopause
To this day, there is no known way to prevent dementia. However, Dementia can be prevented, and there are a number of ways women who experience early menopause may be able to reduce their risk of dementia. This includes routine exercise, participation in leisure and educational activities, not smoking and not drinking alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, etc.
At the same time, getting enough vitamin D, and, if recommended by their physician, possibly taking calcium supplements is also a good start. With that being said, there are also a few practical steps that you can take — that’s if you would want to maintain good cognitive health and potentially reduce your risk of developing dementia toward menopause.
These steps include:
- Eating a healthy and High fiber diet
- Exercising regularly
- Getting enough sleep
- Managing stress
- Avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption
- Staying socially engaged and mentally active.
It is also essential to manage other health conditions, as these can affect your cognitive health. Dont worry! We also have a solution to your problem… Let’s scroll down!
Is There Any Treatment During Menopause?
As if experiencing hot flashes wasn’t enough for women going through perimenopause and menopause, many women also find themselves forgetting names, appointments, and other key information. This so-called “brain fog” is common and annoying. But does it mean you’re at a higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s or other dementias?
Simply put: No. As of now, there’s no known direct link between menopause and dementia. However, research presented earlier this year at the Alzheimer’s Association’s International Conference indicated that the disease may spread differently in the brains of women than in men. Brain Fog has been described as being forgetful and having trouble concentrating.
Small declines in memory, processing speed, and organizational skills are all part of normal aging. But these small impairments shouldn’t interfere with your ability to function at work or with day-to-day activities. However, other issues that can go along with perimenopause – such as depression, anxiety, problems with sleep, or stress – are known causes of cognitive impairment.
Is there medication? Of course, there are a few treatment solutions to note! Such as medications and therapies for dementia during menopause. In that case, you can consider some of the best methods as the basic treatment steps.
Consider the following:
- Hormone Replacement Therapy: Basically, hormone replacement therapy is a form of treatment that involves taking hormone therapy such as estrogen and progesterone to replace the ones that are lost during menopause. HRT can help alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause, including memory loss and cognitive decline.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This therapy helps individuals with dementia learn new strategies to manage their symptoms and improve their overall cognitive function.
- Other Medications: Certain medications, such as cholinesterase inhibitors, may be prescribed to help improve cognitive function in individuals with dementia.
- Alternative Therapies: Some individuals may find relief from dementia symptoms through alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, herbal remedies, and meditation.
Note: This is an observational study and therefore it cannot identify a specific reason for the link between earlier menopause and possible higher dementia risk. While the onset of reduced estrogen levels at a younger age may be a factor, more study is needed to determine estrogen’s effect. Importantly, the study didn’t include information on a family history of dementia.
About The Author:
The author of this article (Dr. Shweta Shah), is a well-renowned Gynaec, Infertility Specialist, and Laparoscopic Surgeon who has medical working experience of 10+ years. Her area of expertise is high-risk pregnancy and invasive surgery related to women’s health problems. Dr. Shweta Shah is one of Mumbai’s most renowned gynecologists and IVF specialists you can trust.
She has more than 10+ years of experience in the field of medical and surgical management of various women’s health problems. She handles high-risk pregnancies, ectopic pregnancy, or cardiomyopathy in pregnancy, Infertility treatment, and IVF to total laparoscopic hysterectomy, myomectomy, cystectomy, endometriosis, PCOD, and urinary incontinence.