Menopause

late menopause
late menopause
New research, published in the journal Neurology, suggests that a late menopause onset may benefit the memory skills of senior women later in life.

A new study led by Diana Kuh, from University College London in the United Kingdom, asks whether the age at which a woman gets her menopause influences her memory performance years later.

She and her colleagues were prompted in their research by existing studies that seemed to suggest that an older age at menopause — coupled with a longer reproductive life — are linked with better cognitive performance years later.

However, as the study authors explain, those studies did not use a particularly large sample, and neither did they benefit from a group of age-homogeneous participants.

So, Kuh and team set out to rectify this by looking at birth cohort studies. They investigated the data of 1,315 women using the Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development in the U.K.

Menopause and memory: Studying the link

As a part of the survey, the women had been clinically followed since birth — that is, since March 1946 — and had at least one cognitive evaluation as adults. Furthermore, the survey included questions about their age at menopause and other aspects of their reproductive health.

At ages 43, 53, 60–64, and 69, the study participants were asked to take verbal memory tests as well as tests for their cognitive processing speed.

The memory assessment consisted of a task in which the participants were asked to recall as many items as possible from a list of 15, and to do so three times. The maximum score achievable in this task was 45 (they scored one point for each word).

Also, the survey included information on whether the women were taking hormone replacement therapy, whether they had had any surgery such as a hysterectomy, their cognitive ability as children, and a few other social factors, such as level of education and their occupation.

All of these factors were accounted for by the researchers in their analysis.

Late menopause may benefit verbal memory

The study revealed that, on average, participants remembered 25.8 words at age 43, a number that declined to 23.3 words by age 69.

But women whose menopause occurred naturally and later in life had higher scores, being able to recall an additional 0.09 words per year. This correlation was not affected by the use of hormone replacement therapy.

Kuh comments on the findings, saying, “The difference in verbal memory scores for a 10-year difference in the start of menopause was small — recalling only one additional word, but it’s possible that this benefit could translate to a reduced risk of dementia years later.”

However, she adds, “More research and follow-up are needed to determine whether that is the case.”

By contrast, no similar correlation between age and memory was noted among women who had surgery-induced menopause. Also, the researchers found no correlation between the age of menopause onset and the women’s information-processing capabilities.

Speculating on the possible mechanisms behind the findings, Kuh says, “This difference [between memory skills and processing speed] may be due to the estrogen receptor role, which regulates the gene that codes brain-derived neurotrophic factor.”

The brain-derived neurotrophic factor, she continues, “helps to solidify memory formation and storage.” Kuh and her colleagues conclude:

Our findings suggest lifelong hormonal processes, not just short-term fluctuations during the menopause transition, may be associated with verbal memory, consistent with evidence from a variety of neurobiological studies.”

Infertility in women above the age of forty can almost always be contributed to menopause, but if you’re in your twenties and thirties and struggling to conceive, there are a number of other causes.

Menopause can’t be ruled out. Premature menopause, while uncommon, does occur in certain women. This is usually genetic. If close family had premature menopause, that trait is likely to be passed along.

Premature menopause will have all the normal symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, mood swings and vaginal dryness. Women with premature menopause can no longer conceive with their own eggs, but can still have children using donor eggs. In cases like this, IVF can be used with a donor egg and sperm before being placed into the menopausal woman’s body. This will result in a normal pregnancy. Women interested in this procedure can visit a fertility clinic to learn more about IVF.

The most common cause of infertility is a condition known as anovulation. This means that the ovaries do not release any eggs. This condition is easily treated using ovulation inducing medicine and is often not a serious health concern. Roughly forty percent of infertile women have this condition.

Women who suffer from endometriosis will often suffer from terrible pain during their menstruation and the effects of this condition can lead to infertility as well. Many women aren’t diagnosed with endometriosis because they believe the pain they feel during their menstruation is normal. When left untreated, endometriosis can cause scar tissue and lesions to form outside the uterus, leading to a decrease in fertility and even more pain. It’s best to see a doctor as soon as possible to prevent damage, but most of the effects of endometriosis can be alleviated with surgery.

Another cause of infertility is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. This is a hormone disorder that hinders the ability of the ovaries to release eggs. This disorder can be treated with medication, but studies have suggested that a healthy lifestyle can work just as well. Overweight women are prone to this disorder due to their unhealthy lifestyles and most fertility doctors would recommend a diet plan and regular exercise before they would resort to prescribing medication.

Another reason for this is the risks involved with being pregnant while overweight. The risks are numerous for mother and child in the case that a heavily overweight woman does manage to conceive.

Still not sure what might be the cause of your infertility? Visit a fertility clinic to be properly diagnosed. In many cases, the problem isn’t with your uterus, but with your partner’s sperm. Most infertility problems can be solved with IVF treatment (with your own egg or with a donor egg). There are treatments or medication available for each of the causes mentioned above and others that were not mentioned. The best way to know what steps you need to take is by talking to a medical health care professional. Don’t attempt to self-diagnose.

Menopause and Sex Life. Not two words you necessarily associate together but actually, the menopause can have a profound effect on your sex life, and not in a good way.

If you’ve had a healthy sex drive up to this phase of your life, it can make you feel under pressure to continue your sex life at the same level as before. Unfortunately, your body has other ideas! For a lot of women, they just feel too tired and then guilty at the fact you’re saying ‘not tonight’ again.

Be assured though, it’s totally normal to not feel in the mood!

Your ovaries stop producing oestrogen which can cause vaginal dryness and make sex painful and difficult, and over time lessen your desire as it just feels too much like hard work.

Hot flushes and night sweats also don’t exactly put you in the mood and make bedtime a sexy place to be! And the weight you’ve gained is seriously affecting your confidence and making you feel pretty rubbish.

Add to that a dip in your testosterone levels, which plays a key role in a woman’s sex drive and sexual sensation, and you can understand why so many women in their 40’s and 50’s have a reduced sex drive. Especially as our sexual desires naturally decline with age anyway.

The good news is you don’t just have to suffer through and accept this as your lot!

There are things you can do to help boost your sex drive and put you in the mood.

Here are few tips:

1. Diet. Certain foods have been found to increase libido:

– Magnesium rich foods including green leafy vegetables, beans and pulses boost levels of your sex hormones.

– Phytoestrogens such as flaxseeds and soybeans naturally mimic oestrogen in your body and increase your sex drive

– Spinach, garlic and coconut, can help boost your testosterone levels which affect your libido

2. Herbs can also be beneficial in helping to boost your libido, including ginseng which helps to boost testosterone, ashwaganda increases blood flow to the clitoris and other female sexual organs and maca root helps to balance hormones and improve sexual experiences and satisfaction.

3. If the feeling is more psychological, due to low mood and a lack of confidence in yourself, then talking about it can really help. Whether that is to your partner, a friend or a health practitioner, know that it is really common and you are not alone.

4. Building strong emotional bonds with your partner, doing things like holding hands, talking and cuddling can help build connection and intimacy with your partner, and put you in the mood.

5. Lubricants can make sex easier and more enjoyable. Go for a water-based one as the most natural way to increase moisture and maintain your vagina’s natural PH.

6. Exercise helps by boosting stamina and strength, which in turn increases your confidence and sex drive. Go for a walk, join a dance class, just do something that you enjoy!

So it is just another natural and normal phase of life and, if you follow the above tips, you can work with it!

A gynaecologist at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, Dr Omuku Samuel, has said women at menopause can still bear children with the aid of Invitro- Fertilisation.

Samuel in Yenagoa on Wednesday explained that the oestrogen of such women that were lost could be regenerated medically to keep them healthy and strong to bear children again.

She said, “The IVF process is not difficult. It is normally carried out with the help of doctors.

The process is by joining the female and male sperms together; this can help the persons to have many kids as they want.

Menopause does not start suddenly, it occurs gradually and it can take up to five years before it can be noticed.

Menopause starts between the ages of 45 and 55 in a woman. Yes, there are some components that make the woman look younger like the oestrogen hormones.

Once a woman lacks such component, her breast and vagina become dry.

It is the oestrogen that maintains the woman’s private part; signs of menopause include waist and back pain, heat and hot flashes.

I am advising women with menopause not to lose hope because IVF can make them reproduce children again.”