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Hereditary Cancer Info > Menopause > Symptoms and Long Term Effects of Menopause

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Symptoms and Long Term Effects of Menopause

Women facing hereditary cancer have special considerations associated with early onset menopause and symptom management.

Memory changes

Loss of estrogen from both natural and surgical menopause is known to affect memory—women in menopause often report memory loss or difficulty focusing on tasks. A number of studies have shown that women who undergo bilateral oophorectomy before they experience natural menopause are at increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia compared with women who have intact ovaries.   

Many of these studies also showed that cognitive issues improved when women started estrogen replacement therapy after surgery and continued through age 50 or longer. Additional research is needed to better understand the effects of estrogen and progesterone replacement on memory and the optimal timing for hormone replacement.  Women in surgical menopause are encouraged to discuss the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy with their health care provider. 

Disruption in sleep, which is also associated with menopause, can affect memory; addressing sleep disturbances may improve memory. Additionally, experts recommend eating a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol, stimulating your brain with puzzles and reading, and getting adequate sleep. Ginkgo biloba and other supplements (these are not approved by the FDA) are rumored to improve memory, but none have proven effective through research. 

Updated 11/4/15 

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