Subjective cognitive complaints at menopause associated with declines in performance of verbal memory and attentional processes

Climacteric. 2010 Feb;13(1):84-98. doi: 10.3109/13697130903009187.


Background: Subjective cognitive complaints are commonly reported during the menopause transition. Whether they are indicative of actual cognitive impairment is unknown.

Objectives: To assess subjective attention and memory complaints in a general population sample across the stages of menopause; to assess relationships between subjective complaints and objective measures of cognitive performance; to examine potential menopause-related, hormonal, psychosocial and cognitive predictors of subjective complaints.

Methods: Multivariate and univariate analyses of cross-sectional data from 120 pre-, peri- and postmenopausal women.

Results: Attention problems were more evident in the perimenopausal and hormone therapy groups. Subjective cognitive problems were associated with declines in verbal memory, and with declining performance on reaction time measures of attention, with small-to-medium effect sizes. Predictors of subjective complaints included menopause-related symptoms, psychosocial variables, psychological symptoms and objective cognitive performance.

Conclusion: A link has been demonstrated between the subjective and objective aspects of cognitive function in association with the menopausal transition. It is suggested that greater recognition be given to cognitive symptoms as forming part of the constellation of menopause-related symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Behavior / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology
  • Memory Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Menopause / physiology*
  • Menopause / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Spatial Behavior / physiology
  • Speech / physiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thinking / physiology