Objectives: To study the effect of GnRH agonist (GnRH-a) treatment on memory and to assess the role of psychological factors.
Design: A randomized prospective study.
Setting: An academic teaching hospital.
Participants: Women with endometriosis and infertility or endometriosis alone.
Main outcome measures: Memory Observation Questionnaire, Profile of Mood States, Health Concerns scale, a weekly diary of adverse effects.
Results: Perceived memory functioning decreased during GnRH-a administration and by the final week of treatment 44% of women reported moderate to marked impairment in comparison to community norms. Prospective memory was most affected and withdrawal of GnRH-a treatment resulted in a return to normal memory functioning. Impairment was not related to excessive health concerns or mood changes and was uncorrelated with other adverse effects.
Conclusions: Memory disruption may be a more common side effect of GnRH-a treatment than currently is recognized. Problems were temporary and more likely a result of rapid estrogen depletion than a consequence of mood, somatic distress, or personality factors.