Prevalence of memory loss complaints and other symptoms associated with the menopause transition: a community survey

Gend Med. 2005 Dec;2(4):255-64. doi: 10.1016/s1550-8579(05)80055-5.


Background: Complaints of memory loss are increasingly noted as part of the constellation of symptoms experienced in the menopause transition. Studies evaluating such complaints in this population have yielded varying results.

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine if complaints of memory loss are a component of the menopause transition and a part of the menopausal symptom complex in a population of women not selected for menopausal symptoms.

Methods: Faculty members of a Long Island, New York, school district were asked to participate ina survey of menopausal symptoms. Demographic data were analyzed using chi(2) statistics. The presence or absence of memory complaints, hot flashes/night sweats, vaginal dryness, depression, reduced libido, and incontinence were analyzed as dichotomous variables in a logistic regression analysis after adjusting for demographic differences.

Results: Seventy-two percent (375/521) of the faculty members in the school district were eligible;of these, 217 (58%) completed the survey. After excluding pregnant women, those with hysterectomies or other nonmenopausal causes of amenorrhea, and those aged <30 or >60 years, 151 women were included in the analysis. Of these, 103 (68%) were experiencing natural menopause or perimenopause and 48 (32%) had no changes in menstrual cycle (the comparison group). The menopausal women were significantly older than the women in the comparison group (mean [SD] 51.2 [5.0] years vs 39.6 [7.2] years; P < 0.001), and they were more likely to be white than the women in the comparison group (P < 0.001). Menopausal women were several-fold more likely to complain of memory loss (odds ratio [OR], 3.2; 95% CI, 1.2-8.8; P < 0.02), hot flashes/night sweats (OR, 4.3; 95% CI, 1.4-13.3; P < 0.01), and reduced libido (OR, 4.5; 95% CI, 1.3-15.7; P < 0.02) than were women in the comparison group, after adjusting for differences in age and race. There were no significant differences in the prevalence of depression, vaginal dryness, or incontinence.

Conclusions: In our exploratory survey, complaints of memory loss were a part of the symptom complex of the menopause transition, as were hot flashes and reduced libido. Longitudinal followup of women with these symptoms may be helpful in understanding the menopause transition in women.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hot Flashes / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Memory Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Menopause*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence