Primary research

Menopause and cognitive impairment: A narrative review of current knowledge

A severe impairment of cognitive function characterizes dementia. Mild cognitive impairment represents a transition between normal cognition and dementia. The frequency of cognitive changes is higher in women than in men. Based on this fact, hormonal factors likely contribute to cognitive decline. In this sense, cognitive complaints are more common near menopause, a phase marked by a decrease in hormone levels, especially estrogen.

Additionally, a tendency toward worsened cognitive performance has been reported in women during menopause. Vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes, sweating, and dizziness), vaginal dryness, irritability and forgetfulness are common and associated with a progressive decrease in ovarian function and a subsequent reduction in the serum estrogen concentration.

This article reviews the main aspects of menopause and cognition, including the neuroprotective role of estrogen and the relationship between menopausal symptoms and cognitive function.