Brain Fog During Menopause Is Common
Memory loss and brain fog are very common experiences for women going through the menopause transition.
And one of the fears midlife women have is whether their foggy brain is an early sign of an inevitable decline towards dementia.
When I was writing my book on womens brain health, I spoke to a friend who is a dementia researcher in her late 40s. She confessed to shed visited her GP to discuss symptoms as she was terrified she had early-onset dementia. Her fears were not unfounded menopausal brain fog and early-stage dementia share many of the same symptoms, including those my neuroscientist friend had a detailed professional understanding of.
But, it is important to know that brain fog is not an early sign of dementia.
Menopausal brain fog is temporary and typically disappears after the transition is over.
Obstetrician and gynaecologist Jen Gunter who has written the excellent book The Menopause Manifesto, likens brain fog and the hormonal chaos of the menopause transition to a computer uploading a new program:
During the upload things run a little slower. Once loaded, there may be a glitch or two before this new program is running smoothly and then things settle as the new program takes over. After all, both computer code and hormones are forms of language.
Jen Gunter, The Menopause Manifesto
What Is Perimenopause Brain Fog
Brain fog is one of the 34 symptoms of perimenopause. Although it is not considered a medical condition, researchers and physicians largely agree that perimenopause brain fog is a form of cognitive dysfunction that affects women transitioning into menopause. Women with perimenopause brain fog report they experience the following:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble focusing
- Lack of mental clarity
The above symptoms can interfere with your everyday life. From grocery shopping or trying to hold a conversation, to performing at work or learning new tasks, women report that brain fog infiltrates their life.
While many women experience brain fog during perimenopause, studies indicate that symptoms of brain fog improve in late menopause. One study found that women in early menopause scored significantly worse on tests that evaluated memory, verbal learning, attention, and following commands compared to women in late menopause. Although you may feel like you are living in a daze or functioning at a suboptimal level, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
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Ask Your Doctor About Hormone Replacement Therapy
There is no question that in an ideal world, the best way to treat estrogen loss would be to replace it with estrogen. But the question of whether or not women should take estrogen and progesterone is a complicated one, and is not a decision that should be made lightly, or without proper medical supervision. The North American Menopause Society has a statement on its website that reads The Experts Do Agree About Hormone Therapy but that statement is complicated. Please read it and discuss with your doctor if HRT is right for you
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How To Eliminate Menopause Brain Fog
Maryon StewartSymptom – Brain Fog
How many times have you forgotten where your keys are? Lost your glasses only to find that they are on top of your head? Become lost for a words mid-sentence? It can be scary if you think its a permanent situation. Many women secretly wonder if these senior moments are the beginning of dementia and are truly frightened. In fact, memory loss or brain fog is one of the most frequent symptoms of the menopause. You are not losing your marbles.
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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The 8 Best Natural Supplements For Menopause Brain Fog
If you preferdietary supplementsto help treat your symptoms over pumping your body full ofunnatural medications and hormones, consider the following options.
While some of these supplements might work well for one person, they may not be as effective or can trigger side effects in others.
Try them out and see what helps you the most, and of course you should always consult a physician to make sure they wont interfere with other conditions you have or medications you take regularly.
Menopause Brain Fog: What Is It And How To Treat It
Written byEmily LunardoPublished onJune 16, 2018
Many women experiencing menopause often describe brain fog, but there was not enough evidence to support such claims. Well, additional research findings have just come out which reveal that brain fog in menopause is a real thing.
Brain fog is used to describe forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, and inability to think clearly.
Brain fog as a result of menopause is neither a permanent condition nor does it increase the risk of dementia later on in life. But in the moment, it is a frustrating symptom to live with.
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The Symptomology Can Add Insult To Injury
Its unfair, a cousin complained. I am up half the night with hot flashes, and I carry fans in my pockets so I wont sweat during the day. My weight hasnt really changed, but my fat cells seem to be sliding into pouches around my middle and my hips. And now I am seriously suffering from brain fog. I cant remember anything. When my mother was given a memory test to see if she was developing Alzheimers, I tried remembering the words and the story on the tests the neurologist was giving her, and I couldnt.
The other older female relatives hearing her tale of woe nodded in recognition. Its the change, said the oldest. Menopause. We went through all that as well. And the stories began of forgetfulness, difficulty in processing information, inability to multi-task and for some, unexpected depression and anxiety.
What did your doctor say? asked a younger cousin, no doubt worrying about what would happen to her in a few years. Not much, was the answer, except that I could try hormones for a short time to see if it would help, but then I couldnt because there is breast cancer in my family.
Menopause occurs when the ovaries stop functioning and estrogen levels drop significantly. Unless the ovaries are removed as part of a surgical procedure, the decrease and final cessation of ovarian function can occur over a period of several years4 to 10, according to a review article in JAMA.
Menopause Hormone Therapy And Sleep
MHT composed of estrogen alone for women who have undergone a hysterectomy and combined with progestin for women with an intact uterus is the most effective treatment of menopausal symptoms and their potential consequences . Several studies in literature have attempted to examine the effects of MHT on sleep, although investigations are mixed and difficult to compare given the heterogeneity in study populations, methods for evaluating sleep, lack of uniformity in the definition of diagnosis of sleep disturbances and variations in MHT preparations .
In most studies enhanced sleep quality resulted from an improvement in vasomotor symptoms . A 2015 literature review conducted by Attarian and colleagues detected that MHT administered in the form of low-dose estrogen or progestogen could improve chronic insomnia in menopausal women, with 14 of the 23 studies reviewed showing positive results . There is conflicting data about the link between vasomotor symptoms at menopause and objective polysomnographic measures of sleep . Finally, a study conducted by Schuessler et al. focused on the possible sedating effects of oral progesterone, revealing a distinct decline of intermittent wakefulness after micronized progesterone compared to a placebo, without affecting daytime cognitive functions, possibly through a GABA-agonistic mechanism .
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What Is Menopause Brain Fog
Cognitive changes are one of the most widely reported symptoms of menopause. Women often use terms like “forgetfulness” or “concentration difficulties” to describe it, according to a study published in the Menopause journal.
Brain fog and declines in memory have been reported across the board in middle-aged women, even if you take into account factors like health and lifestyle.
Often, these specific cognitive symptoms also come with other mental health-related concerns, such as:
mood changes, including increased irritability
anxiety and depression
Quality Care For Women At Every Stage Of Life
Looking for quality health care from a caring team of doctors and health professionals? Our team at HerKare is here for you. We offer quality womens health care at every stage of life. Whether youre dealing with brain fog from menopause or need well woman care, we are here for you. We believe in empowering women to address their health by listening to your concerns and providing quality care to help. Book an appointment at one of our convenient locations today and lets talk about your wellbeing.
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Where Does The Fog Come From
The disruption and later absence of estrogen play a major role in the onset of brain fog. As DePree explained, estrogen is neuroprotective it’s known to boost the immune system and helps protect neurons from harm while also promoting new nerve connections. And it’s the primary hormone affected by menopause. So when hormones start to ebb and flow during perimenopause, DePree said, “It’s not surprising to know that the brain is impacted.”
There are also additional perimenopause symptoms at work. Sleep disruption, often caused by hot flashes or night sweats, as well as anxiety and depression can also impact memory, focus and concentration.
DePree said word retrieval and forgetfulness causes many women to worry they’re experiencing the early signs of dementia adding that for most women, it doesn’t.
However, women are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than men. So for a small subset of individuals, brain fog may be the beginning of cognitive impairment that might someday be Alzheimer’s.
Adding Supplements To Your Diet
The brain is dependent on glucose, essential fats and phospholipids for good health. Several B vitamins are also critical for normal memory and mental performance. Zinc and magnesium are necessary for neurotransmitter metabolism. It follows that including certain nutrients in your diet can help boost your concentration, attention span, as well as short-term and long-term memory.
Current research also suggests that brain-boosting supplements can help improve your memory skills.
- Take a good multivitamin and mineral such a Fema45+
- Ginkgo Biloba, an herbal extract made from the leaves of the Chinese maidenhair tree, has gained recognition over the past 30 years as a brain tonic that helps restore vascular function and memory. More than 300 medical studies have been published, most indicating the benefits of taking daily supplements. Ginkgo improves circulation, which in turn increases blood flow, carrying more nutrients and oxygen to the brain. This supplement helps restore short-term and long-term memory, helping you think more clearly and concentrate better.
Memory and other cognition issues associated with menopause may improve with time. Eat well, get good sleep, exercise, and keep your mind active to help with your symptoms in the meantime.
If your brain fog gets worse, make an appointment with your doctor to rule out other health issues or to ask about hormone treatments for menopause.
Are you feeling demotivated?
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Why Does Brain Fog Happen During Menopause
So, what does menopause have to do with brain fog? It turns out, quite a lot.
First of all, menopause can cause a whole host of symptoms, some of which can affect our brains. For example, night sweats can hinder normal sleep. Lack of sleep can make it feel like youre walking through a fog and can affect your cognition. Mood changes, depression, and anxiety can all also affect your memory and attention.
However, researchers have found that there may be more at play than sleep and mood disturbances when it comes to menopausal brain fog. During menopause, our hormones start to fluctuate and decline, leading up to our very last period. Estrogen is one of the main hormones involved in this process. Some researchers believe decreasing estrogen levels may have an impact on memory and learning, which might explain why many women experience brain fog during menopause.
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.
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How Does Menopause Affect Your Memory And Concentration
At the start of the perimenopause, your hormone levels begin to drop. And the hormones oestrogen and testosterone play important roles in how your brain works.
Oestrogen stimulates your brain and helps your brain cells use sugar as fuel, while testosterone helps strengthen your nerves and your brains blood supply. So when your oestrogen and testosterone levels drop, it can cause memory loss and trouble concentrating.
Brain fog can happen at any time in the perimenopause and menopause. But studies suggest it may be worse during perimenopause and get better again after youve reached menopause .
How Can Hormones Help
Hormones, particularly estrogen, have lots of jobs, but one that is intriguing is the role they play in keeping the brain young and active.4 With a link between estrogen and progesterone levels and brain health, it makes sense to look at hormone replacement therapy as an option for fighting cognitive decline.
Many studies focused on menopause have failed to report estrogen as brain protective. New studies have shown that starting estrogen replacement therapy earlier might help fight cognitive declines.3,4
One way for women to minimize the dramatic hormonal changes that occur at menopause is to use HRT. That approach fell out of favor with the Women’s Health Initiative. More recent studies suggest that hormone therapy can be really helpful if women get it early enough.6 The effects of hormone therapy depend on the timing of use.
When women started taking estrogen after age 65, they were more likely to have trouble with memory. But women who started taking estrogen earlier did not have memory issues. Estrogen may benefit the mental function of younger women because it reduces hot flashes and so many other menopause symptoms.6
“The more hot flashes a woman has, the worse her memory performance. And when we intervene to address those hot flashes , her memory performance bounces back.”6
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Brain Fog And Menopause
. Posted in Symptoms.
One of the most troubling symptoms of menopause is brain fog when you struggle to remember a word mid-sentence, forget names, find it hard to focus or put your thoughts into words. Its particularly difficult at work and partly to blame for up to a quarter of women considering leaving their job. It can be so dramatic that many women are fearful they have dementia.
So, what is brain fog? Its an umbrella term that includes forgetfulness, poor concentration, trouble finding words and confusion. 60% of women experience this, particularly during perimenopause which usually starts in our 40s way before you even think of being menopausal.
What is the cause? We have oestrogen receptors all over our body and as oestrogen levels fluctuate and dip, it causes changes in the brain. Other brain chemicals, like serotonin, can also reduce and this affect our mood. Add in sleepless night and the ageing process and you have a perfect storm for brain fog.
What can you do about it? Heres our top tips to help you cope with brain fog during perimenopause, menopause and beyond:
And the good news is, it wont last: A four year research study of 2,600 women found memory improved again post-menopause.
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What Lifestyle Changes Help Lift Brain Fog During Menopause
If hormone therapy doesnt help with brain fog. What can you do?
Jen Gunter offers the following suggestions in The Menopause Manifesto:
- Be reassured: temporary changes with memory, attention, and the feeling of brain fog are typical symptoms of the menopause transition, and while they feel alarming they arent a cause for alarm. This isnt a sign that theres a steep memory cliff ahead.
- Consider asking your GP for help with depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance: these affect cognitive performance and when treated memory may improve.
- Exercise: at least 150 minutes a week of moderate activity is the goal. Moving your body is the best exercise you can provide for your brain.
- Consider stress: theres no easy fix here, but a psychologist may be able to help reframe life stressors, give support, and provide strategies for coping.
If youre a in the midst of midlife, think about what you have going on. Are you raising teenagers? Home schooling younger children? Worrying about ageing parents overseas? Juggling work? Keeping your marriage on track? Having an existential about the pandemic and/or climate change? All of these factors undoubtedly increase stress and exacerbate the cognitive blips youre experiencing.
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