A recent study has shown that hormone therapy begun years after menopause doesn’t improve mental function, but, interestingly, boosts sexual drive.
The idea of hormone therapy after menopause with the aim of improving mental function was born after researchers found out that women that have entered in this step of their lives had memory problems. But soon another question aroused, if menopause actually affects mental function, can hormone therapy help?
Studies suggest that hormone therapy begun during menopause can preserve mental function. Some started to wonder if later hormone therapy could do the same.
In a study funded by Wyeth, the maker of the hormone products Prempro (estrogen plus progesterone) and Premarin (estrogen only), 180 healthy women began taking either Prempro or inactive placebo pills one to three years after menopause.
Researcher Pauline Maki, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago and colleagues gave the women a battery of mental-function tests, after four months of hormone treatment. Also, they gave the women a test that evaluated their sexuality, including sexual thoughts and interest in sex.
They found out that hormone therapy did not help the women’s memory.
“These results are similar to previous studies suggesting hormone therapy has minimal effect on a woman’s memory when taken many years after menopause,” said Maki in a news release.
In the sex field was where they discovered this interesting effect.
“The level of sexual interest reported by women on hormone therapy increased 44%,” Maki says. “And their number of sexual thoughts increased 32% compared to the placebo group.”
The Maki study had just begun when the results of the Women’s Health Initiative showed that hormone therapy begun after menopause increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer without decreasing risk of heart disease. This study thus came to an abrupt end before it could enroll as many women as planned. This means the results have to be taken with caution.
Source: journal Neurology Sept. 25.

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