Menopause, cognition, and MS

The proportion of female MS patients who will go through menopause constitue a significant number.

 Cognitive disturbances such as brain fog, lack of focus as well as memory loss are some of the most common complaints during the menopausal period with a high prevalence which impacts personal life and work of even healthy women.

A recent paper underscores that cognitive decline is greater in older MS patients compared to older healthy individuals, providing evidence that the combination of aging and MS may accelerate cognitive decline.

Hormonal changes that occur in menopause have been associated with greater disability in MS. However, menopause is a topic that has classically received little attention, particularly in MS research and a study of how menopause differently impacts cognition in females with MS has not yet been performed.

 Therefore, we are launching a new study at Weill Cornell Medical college to better understand neurobiological mechanisms driving cognitive changes in menopausal MS patients with the aim of developing novel treatment plans to support cognitive resilience.

 We will perform MRI and cognitive tests in MS patients who are in the pre, peri, or post-menopausal stage to investigate the association between changes in cognition and the brain’s structure, function, metabolism, and vasculature in different stages of menopause in MS.

 Better identification of the biological underpinnings of cognitive impairment in MS, particularly cognitive decline around the menopausal period, will help clinicians better understand the role of hormone changes in MS.

 If we can understand the mechanisms of cognitive decline/resiliency, then we would be able to develop novel personalized treatments that can reduce impairment in middle-aged/elderly MS patients.


Ceren Tozlu, PhD


Weill Cornell Medicine Multiple Sclerosis Center 1305 York Ave., Second Floor New York, NY 10021