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Cognitive profiles in perimenopause: hormonal and menopausal symptom correlates

M T Weber 1 2L H Rubin 3 4 5R Schroeder 6T Steffenella 7P M Maki 6 8 9

Climacteric. 2021 Mar 24;1-7.doi: 10.1080/13697137.2021.1892626. 


Objective: Perimenopause is associated with declines in attention, working memory and verbal memory; however, there are significant individual differences. Further, the contributions of hormones and menopausal symptoms to domain-specific cognitive functions remain unknown. This longitudinal study aimed to determine whether there were distinct cognitive profiles in perimenopause and to identify factors associated with each profile.

Design: In a sample of 85 women evaluated over 400 bi-annual visits, we administered a comprehensive neuropsychological battery, assessed menopausal symptoms and measured 17β-estradiol and follicle stimulating hormone. Multilevel latent profile analysis was used to identify cognitive profiles. Regressions were conducted to determine differences in hormones and symptoms by profile after adjusting for Stages of Reproductive Aging Workshop + 10 (STRAW + 10) stage and demographic factors.

Results: Perimenopausal cognitive profiles consisted of cognitively normal (Profile 1; n = 162), weaknesses in verbal learning and memory (Profile 2; n = 94), strengths in verbal learning and memory (Profile 3; n = 98) and strengths in attention and executive function (Profile 4; n = 61). Profile 2 was differentiated by less hormonal variability and more sleep disturbance than Profile 1 (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: There is significant heterogeneity in cognition during perimenopause. While most women do not develop impairments, a significant minority experience weaknesses in verbal learning and memory. Profile analysis may identify at-risk populations and inform interventions.