Natural Treatments For Menopause Brain Fog
Fact checked by The Brain Blog Team
First things first – menopause brain fog is real! If youre a woman over forty, youve probably noticed that its become more difficult to remember little things in daily life. You cant recall the name of that actress in that movie in conversation, even though shes your favorite actress and you just saw the movie last week. You may feel stupid when you have to stop and search for a word in the middle of a sentence over dinner and drinks with the girls. Its okay. In fact, its normal and you CAN do something about it.
The Scientific Evidence For Postmenopausal Brain Fog
Three longitudinal studies, The Study of Womens Health Across the Nation , The Seattle Midlife Womens Health Study, and the Penn Ovarian Aging Study, have examined the changes in a womans brain function as she crosses from premenopause through menopause into post-menopause. These studies showed that the decline in memory, attention, word-finding, and other cognitive difficulties could not be attributed to age, depression, anxiety, vasomotor symptoms, or sleep disturbances .
The Seattle Midlife Womens Health Study explored the types of memory changes women noticed around menopause. In this study, 508 women were enrolled and followed from 1990 until 2013. Criteria to participate included age, having at least one menstrual cycle in the past 12 months, and having an intact uterus and at least one ovary. Women were studied up to five years post-menopause.
- Approximately 72% of women reported problems remembering names, at least sometimes.
- About 50% had difficulty remembering where they put things, recent phone numbers, what someone had recently told them, or what they had told someone else. They also reported difficulty keeping up with a conversation, or forgetting what they were doing.
- Women also noted problems remembering words and numbers .
Weber et al. synthesized the information from multiple studies. Here are some of their findings:
How To Minimize Menopause Brain Fog Naturally
Brain fog and memory problems are common symptoms of menopause. But these issues, and others, can be minimized naturally, without hormones. Learn how.
Brain fog is a common symptom of menopause.
Fortunately, these problems dont last forever and are not risk factors for more serious forms of mental decline later in life.
However, theres no need to struggle with foggy thinking while menopause is running its course.
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How Long Do Symptoms Last
Perimenopausal symptoms can last four years on average. The symptoms associated with this phase will gradually ease during menopause and postmenopause. Women whove gone an entire year without a period are considered postmenopausal.
Hot flashes, also known as hot flushes, are a common symptom of perimenopause. One study found that moderate to severe hot flashes could continue past perimenopause and last for a
Researchers also found that Black women and women of average weight experience hot flashes for a longer period than white women and women who are considered overweight.
Its possible for a woman to experience menopause before the age of 55. Early menopause occurs in women who go through menopause before theyre 45 years old. Its considered premature menopause if youre menopausal and are 40 years old or younger.
Early or premature menopause can happen for many reasons. Some women can go through early or premature menopause because of surgical intervention, like a hysterectomy. It can also happen if the ovaries are damaged by chemotherapy or other conditions and treatments.
Workplace Coping Strategies Include Rehearsing Finding Understanding Among Colleagues And Taking Lots Of Notes
People face a choice when menopause symptoms become noticeable to their colleagues: talk about it or not? For many around the world, menopause in the workplace is still a taboo subject. In one British survey, about 47% of people who needed to take a day off due to menopause symptoms did not feel comfortable telling their bosses or colleagues the reason. In a separate survey across five countries, 44% of people who experienced menopause symptoms said they have felt too embarrassed to ask for support in the workplace.
After her first five months of menopause, Miller decided to not dance around the subject with her colleagues, most of whom are male, or make excuses for it. She felt it had become super obvious what was going on when she needed a fan on days when it was freezing outside.
It is what it is. Its a part of life, she said. When she has brain fog, she said, I just flat-out tell my co-workers: Youre going to have to show me. Can you go into greater detail?
Sometimes she receives heavy sighs in response. But Miller said that for the most part, the men she works with are receptive because of other women in their lives.
I have one co-worker whose wife is my age, so he totally gets it, Miller said.
Creating an open dialogue with co-workers and practicing individual coping strategies raise awareness, but Opie noted that there is an institutional responsibility, too.
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Does Menopause Cause Brain Fog
Genetically, women who reach a climax experience a wide range of ailments, such as night sweats, mood swings, hot flashes, and decreased libido. And, it seems quite normal because they are all of the temporary characters. However, some claim that if a woman becomes forgetful or faces menopause brain fog feeling there is no way back, this state will only aggravate. Thats not true. Over the last decades, many studies were conducted to analyze cognitive dysfunction, and they all range in evidence.
As per studies, it is fully confirmed that around 60% of ladies in their climax have memory issues. The most distinctive manifestation occurs in the perimenopause stage when periods are about to recede. Experts claim that menopause brain fog is caused by hot flashes, sleep disorders, and the problems of the vascular system. So, the successful and safe directions and tactics in treatment will depend on affecting the initial causes or irritants.
Some researches also notice that the menopause and brain fog symptoms are strongly marked in ladies who are about to hit perimenopause. They slowly find it hard to focus on attention, communicating, and remembering basic things.
The Truth About Postmenopausal Brain Fog
Written by Leann Poston, M.D., M.B.A.
What causes postmenopausal brain fog? How can you treat and ultimately beat postmenopausal brain fog? These are a few of the top search queries on the internet? You, like many women, may be concerned about the symptoms you are noticing. You dont need scientific studies to show that fluctuating estrogen levels causes symptoms such as weight gain, difficulty sleeping, mood changes, and the dreaded hot flashes.
You may be aware that hormone replacement therapy has gone in and out of favor. There are known risks and benefits in replacing female sex hormones, just as there are known risks and benefits of taking any prescription medication or over-the-counter supplement. There are also known risks and benefits of not replacing female sex hormones. The information can be summed up in one word, confusing!
Whats The Cure For Menopause Brain Fog
There is no cure for menopause brain fog, but there are treatments that can help lessen the symptoms. If you havent already, we recommend making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your options and the best treatment for you. There are several treatment options, including natural solutions for menopause brain fog, that can help you improve your memory, mental confusion, and energy level so you can get back to thinking on your feet and feeling great again.
Research Suggests That Brain Fog Is A Real But Temporary Experience For Some Women
About 60 % of women over 40 report brain fog. Some clinical studies support this lived experience. But others find subtle or not measurable change in cognition.
- A 2014 meta-analysis compared young healthy fertile women with peri- and post-menopausal women. Post-menopausal women performed significantly worse than fertile and perimenopausal women on verbal memory tasks .
- A 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis of women undergoing surgical menopause show a faster decline in various tests of memory and accumulation of Alzheimers neuropathology.
- A group of Harvard researchers compared memory in men and women ages 45 to 55 using a range of cognitive task. Womens memory skills declined slight over the menopause transition. But, at all ages, regardless of menopausal status, women outperformed men! This cognitive advantage persists in women with a dementia diagnosis.
- A paper published in Nature Scientific Reports in 2021 by Lisa Mosconi and her team carefully charting the brain changes that take place across the menopausal transition. They found no differences in global cognition scores between pre-, peri- and post-menopausal women.
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Neurologist Says Menopause Brain Fog Is Often Misdiagnosed
‘Ive actually had patients misdiagnosed with dementia and Alzheimers disease’
Menopause can throw up lots of different symptoms and side effects for different women, but perhaps one of the most confusing for doctors, and menopausal women, is brain fog. So much so that a leading US neurologist has spoken about the common misdiagnoses he sees.
‘Ive actually had patients misdiagnosed with dementia and Alzheimers disease when really it was menopause-related brain fog,’ Gayatri Devi, M.D., a clinical professor of neurology at SUNY Downstate Medical Centre and an attending physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told US sitePrevention.
As Dr Devi explained, brain fog in perimenopausal and menopausal women is often down to changing levels of oestrogen. This is because the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that helps with memory and speech, is home to lots of oestrogen receptors. ‘Think of those receptors as being like little docking sites for oestrogen that are spread out across the hippocampus,’ Dr. Devi said.
That means when your oestrogen levels dip during menopause, this area of the brain isn’t getting the hormone which it has long relied upon and has to adjust to a new way of doing things hence the brain fog. ‘Its your brain figuring out how to work without as much oestrogen as its used to.’
How Menopause Causes Brain Fog And Forgetfulness
A particular type of memory known as working memory your ability to assimilate and manipulate new information does not perform as well as usual during menopause.
This makes it hard to do things like calculate simple math in your head or remember something youve just read.
This is believed to be due to fluctuating hormone levels.
Estrogen has a significant impact on neurotransmitters, brain chemicals that allow brain cells to communicate with each other.
Areas of the brain considered the brains memory centers are loaded with estrogen receptors.
Estrogen increases levels of important brain chemicals like serotonin, which is linked to positive mood, and acetylcholine, which is essential for learning and memory.
It also promotes the growth of new brain cells, the formation of synapses, and acts as an antioxidant to protect the brain from free radical damage.
But levels of estrogen go down during menopause, affecting levels of these important neurotransmitters.
Its also possible that lack of estrogen contributes to memory loss indirectly by disrupting sleep.
Higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol during menopause can increase anxiety and depression and contribute to mental decline.
Before menopause, women stay mentally sharp longer than men, but during menopause, womens rate of mental decline catches up.
This may be due to a drop in testosterone.
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, but women also need it in small amounts.
Dont Be A Brain Fog Drop Out
A 2019 survey carried out by Dr Louise Newsons Newson Health Clinic, revealed that 95% of respondents felt that their menopause symptoms negatively impacted their work. Despite this, 76% of the respondents workplaces did not offer any menopause support for employees. No surprise that one third of the women had considered cutting back their hours or leaving the workplace completely.
Yes, having time off work is good, says Dr Louise Newson. But actually, as most women can have HRT, it is even better to have their hormones balanced. They need to be given the right education and support, and the right combination of diet, exercise and wellbeing advice. This means that they can not only stay at work but they can probably do a far better job.
Personally, if I hadnt managed my menopause, I would not have been working because my brain was gone. My memory was poor, my concentration was poor, my motivation was reduced. So even if Id had flexible working, with proper management, I would have stayed at home and stared at the four walls. Yet when it is managed probably, women thrive at work.
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So talk to your HR department and see what can be done to raise levels of awareness and understanding. They owe it to all employees to be better at supporting women through this.
Add More Healthy Fats
Maintaining a healthy diet is also hugely beneficial for cognition. The Mediterranean diet has been widely touted for its brain-protective properties, thanks to its inclusion of omega-3s and unsaturated fats. Empirical data reports that eating a mainly Mediterranean diet is linked to a slower rate of cognitive decline and a lower risk of cognitive impairment .To support your cognitive health, add more vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, grains, cereals, oily fish , and unsaturated fats , to your diet.
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The Most Common Brain Fog Triggers
Ive had clients with brain fog from all of the following causes. Ive ordered them from most common to least common. These can cause brain fog either by causing inflammation or by causing long-term changes in the brain.
There are many other possible sources for brain fog. However, Ive only listed the most common ones that wouldnt be diagnosed by your doctor.
If you get brain fog after eating, then you must look more carefully at your diet.
Brain Fog After Eating
The most common causes of brain fog are lectin and food sensitivities. When people consume food that causes inflammation, it will often cause brain fog.
People with lectin sensitivity will most often experience inflammation in their gut, joints, thyroid, and brain . Sometimes theyll go on to develop an autoimmune condition eventually.
In some cases, people only have to stay away from specific proteins or foods and theyre fine.
However, lectins are not the only problem in food.
Some common triggers of inflammation are:
- Food additives like carrageenan
You can be allergic to any other food as well. Egg and fish allergies are quite common, so pay attention to them.
You should try out the strict version of the Lectin Avoidance Diet, which has helped a lot of clients with brain fog.
What Does The Research Say
In one study, researchers share that some 60 percent of middle-aged women report difficulty concentrating and other issues with cognition. These issues spike in women going through perimenopause.
Perimenopause is the stage just before the menstrual cycle stops entirely. The women in the study noticed subtle changes in memory, but the researchers also believe that a negative affect may have made these feelings more pronounced.
The researchers explain that women going through menopause may generally feel a more negative mood, and that mood may be related to memory issues. Not only that, but brain fog may also be connected with sleep issues and vascular symptoms associated with menopause, like hot flashes.
Another also focuses on the idea that women in early stages of menopause may experience more noticeable issues with cognition. Specifically, women in the first year of their last menstrual period scored the lowest on tests evaluating:
- verbal learning
- working memory tasks
Memory for the women improved over time, which is the opposite of what the researchers had initially hypothesized.
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Conditions Associated With Brain Fog
Being heavily associated with oxidative stress and inflammation, brain fog is much more likely to occur in conjunction with other conditions.
Theres evidence that chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia are caused by oxidative stress and inflammation .
Inflammation hits the brain stem as well in CFS .
Its no wonder that brain fog is commonly cited in people with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia the same processes are driving all three.
Mood disorders such as anxiety, OCD,depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, and alcoholism can exacerbate brain fog because oxidative stress plays a role in these disorders .
In fact, science is discovering now that many antidepressants work by combating oxidative stress .
Ive noticed a strong correlation with these disorders especially OCD, anxiety, and depression- and brain fog in my clients. I had all three when I used to have brain fog.
In multiple sclerosis, Sjogrens, and lupus, brain fog is a common feature. In all of these disorders, inflammation and oxidative stress are increased.
Female hormones such as estrogen and estradiol tend to display antioxidant activities and lower oxidative stress, which is why women with menopause sometimes develop brain fog.
Get Plenty Of Omegas 3 And 6
Fish, fish oil, seeds, and nuts all appear to play a role in protecting brain function. Fluid intelligence our problem-solving smarts and memory preservation are supported when we have balanced, abundant reserves of Omega fatty acids from our diet.
If you are looking for a quick way to get your daily fatty acids, try Gennev’somega 3 supplement for women
Speaking of dietCalorie restriction and intermittent fasting during menopause have been shown to have some protective effects, though both should be done carefully and under the watchful eye of a medical professional.
As Fezzik says in The Princess Bride, Everybody move!Exercise increases our levels of BDNF , the compound that promotes the formation of new neural networks. Just how much exercise is yet to be determined, but combining exercise with Omega 3 and 6 supplements may boost the brain protection ever further.
Mindfulness meditation, positivity, reduced stress, and love, sweet love are all good for our brains . All reduce internal inflammation which can deteriorate neural pathways.
Finally, sleep. Just as your muscles need rest between exertions, so does your gray matter. Chronic lack of sleep causes inflammation that can slow brain recovery and impact well, pretty much everything: memory, metabolism, attention, function. But everything you dont need your brain to do should be fine!
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