Estrogen + progestin therapy and cognition: a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study

J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2010 Aug;36(4):796-802. doi: 10.1111/j.1447-0756.2010.01214.x.


Aims: The use of hormone therapy (HT) is a relevant and topical issue in the treatment of menopausal symptoms in women. Information regarding the effects of combination treatment with estrogen and progesterone as well as treatment timing on cognitive function is lacking and was evaluated in healthy pre- and postmenopausal women.

Methods: Sixteen premenopausal (45-51 years) and 16 postmenopausal (58-70 years) women were randomly assigned to receive either estrogen + progestin therapy (HT) or placebo (PL) for six months. The study was double-blind. Cognitive performance was measured at baseline and follow up with tests of verbal and visuomotor functions, verbal and visual memory, and attention.

Results: In premenopausal women, cognitive attention, when compared to baseline, improved with HT but declined slightly with PL in the two-choice reaction time task (P = 0.049), while PL was associated with better performance in tests of shared attention (P = 0.024) and auditory attention (P < 0.05). In postmenopausal women, HT was associated with improved performance in verbal episodic memory (P = 0.024) and a minor decline in auditory attention (P = 0.025).

Conclusions: HT, with estradiol valerate and norethisterone, in healthy women showed only minor effects on attention around the menopausal transition and on memory in postmenopause.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Attention / drug effects*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Estradiol / administration & dosage
  • Estradiol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Female
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Norethindrone / administration & dosage*
  • Reaction Time / drug effects


  • Estradiol
  • Norethindrone