Certain menopause symptoms, particularly severe depression and sexual dysfunction, can affect women’s cognitive performance, according to a new study published in Menopause.

While previous studies have evaluated the effect of menopausal symptoms of women’s physical health and mental wellbeing, few have considered its impact on overall cognitive performance.

Severe depression and sexual dysfunction were associated with a decrease in cognitive performance

The study involved more than 400 women and evaluated the severity of menopause symptoms on orientation, registration, attention, recall and language and visuospatial skills.

The researchers focused on particular symptoms which are common during the menopause such as sexual dysfunction, vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes), depression, and anxiety.

They concluded that the cognitive performance of women is sensitive to the severity of certain symptoms, especially depression and sexual dysfunction.

The researchers note that while no association was identified between the severity of vasomotor symptoms and cognitive performance, other studies have suggested that such an association exists.

Findings highlight "importance of evaluating women for menopause symptoms and providing appropriate treatment"

Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director said: “This study highlights the effect of menopause symptoms on cognitive functioning and demonstrates a link between severe depressive and sexual symptoms, specifically, with cognitive performance. Mood disturbances are common in the menopause transition and can affect memory and sexual functioning.

“These findings underscore the importance of evaluating women for menopause symptoms and providing appropriate treatment, when indicated, including treatment of depression and sexual dysfunction.”