More Benefits Of Hormone Therapy: It Prevents Memory Loss And Stress In Menopausal Women, New Study Claims

The short-term memories of women on a hormone replacement were less impaired by stress than those of women not taking estrogen

  • Stress is known to impair short term memory, which also tends to get worse after menopause 

  • Hormone replacement therapies containing estrogen and, often, progesterone, may help to reduce the effects of stress on memory 

  • By Natalie Rahhal For

    Published: 14:00 EDT, 2 November 2017 | Updated: 14:00 EDT, 2 November 2017






    Hormone replacement therapy may protect menopausal women from stress-related memory loss, new research suggests.

    The sex hormone estrogen buffers working memory from the impact of stress, which is known to impair short-term working memory, according to the study from the University of Southern California (USC).

    Women going through menopause take hormone replacement therapy (or HRT) which contains estrogen to offset symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, mood swings, and reduced sex drive.

    But new research offers the first sign that the treatment also blocks fluctuating hormones from affecting memory.

    Hormone replacement therapies may protect short term memory from damage caused by stress, a new study shows 

    Hormone replacement therapies may protect short term memory from damage caused by stress, a new study shows 

    First author Doctor Alexandra Herrera of USC said: 'We know estrogen can modify women's hormonal response to stress, and we wanted to test whether such modifications also altered its subsequent effects on memory.'

    'Our study suggests that estrogen treatment after menopause protects working memory needed for short-term cognitive tasks from the effects of stress.'

    Stress prompts the hormonal system and the hypothalamus to release cortisol. This process is called the hypothalamicpituitary-adrenal (HPA) response.

    Cortisol interferes with the activity of the hippocampus from making new neurons and neural connections, a process that is key to working memory. 

    But, Dr Herrera explains that HRT may reduce this response, and thus cortisol, when there are environmental or immune system stressors. 

    She added: 'One such deleterious effect of stress is interference with prefrontal cognitive processes such as working memory.

    'Since HRT can reduce the HPA response to stress, the hormone may also mitigate the effects of stress on working memory by limiting the cortisol response to the stressor.'


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