A common worry among women is that your memory will get foggy as you transition into menopause.
Well, a new study of 212 men and women aged 45 to 55 in the journal Menopause offers a bit of good news and bad news about memory and aging in women:
First, the bad news: Yes, your memory does tend to dip as you age due to lower levels of estrogen.
Specifically, your short-term memory and abilities to absorb and retain new information are less sharp than they are when you’re in your premenopausal years (when you have regular menstrual cycles) and your perimenopausal years (the years leading up to menopause).
Now the good news: This study found that despite this hormone-fueled dip in memory, you actually outperform similarly-aged men at all stages in your life.
And this holds true for all the types of memory the researchers tested, including short-term recall and retaining and learning new information as well as episodic memory (memories of experiences you’ve had), episodic verbal memory (which helps you remember words, pictures and everyday events), executive function (the kind of memory that helps you plan and problem-solve), semantic processing (which helps you recall facts and words), verbal intelligence (language skills) and associative memory (which helps you recall paired information, such as the name of someone new you just met).
So, what’s all this mean for you?
While you may experience a decline in two types of memory as you transition into menopause–initial learning and short-term recall–by knowing this can happen, you can take proactive measures to ensure you’re not slowed down by it, for example, by taking more notes during classes and studying new information longer to remember it more clearly later on.
And, you can bask in the knowledge that no matter how fuzzy your memory gets, you’re still outpacing men who are the same age.