Menopausal

What is menopause?

Menopause is a natural biological process. But the physical symptoms, such as hot flashes and emotional symptoms of menopause may disrupt your sleep lower your energy or affect emotional health.

Symptoms:
In the months or years leading up to menopause (perimenopause), you might experience these signs and symptoms:

  • Irregular periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Hot flashes
  • Chills
  • Night sweats

Causes

Menopause can result from:

Naturally declining reproductive hormones. As you approach your late 30s, your ovaries start making less estrogen and progesterone — the hormones that regulate menstruation — and your fertility declines.

In your 40s, your menstrual periods may become longer or shorter, heavier or lighter, and more or less frequent, until eventually — on average, by age 51 — your ovaries stop releasing eggs, and you have no more periods.

Surgery that removes the ovaries (oophorectomy):

Your ovaries produce hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, that regulate the menstrual cycle. Surgery to remove your ovaries causes immediate menopause. Your periods stop, and you’re likely to have hot flashes and experience other menopausal signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms can be severe, as hormonal changes occur abruptly rather than gradually over several years.

Surgery that removes your uterus but not your ovaries (hysterectomy) usually doesn’t cause immediate menopause. Although you no longer have periods, your ovaries still release eggs and produce estrogen and progesterone.

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What is brain fog?

Brain fog is not a medical term but it is how most people who experience memory or cognition changes refer to these conditions. According to the Australasian Menopause Society, brain fog in menopause can present as a loss of immediate focus, distraction, misplacement of items and time lapses.

Menopause Brain Fog

What helps with brain fog during menopause?

Here are some tips to help combat brain fog

Try mindful activities which will help to reduce stress and anxiety

Exercise regularly

Eat a Mediterranean diet. It’s a diet rich in antioxidants that are vital for brain health. The richest sources of antioxidants are in brightly colored vegetables and fruits.

Menopausal brain fog:

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”

Women going through menopausal brain fog may have 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.

Women in the first year of their last menstrual period scored the lowest on tests evaluating:

  • verbal learning
  • memory
  • motor function
  • attention

Memory issue during menopause is completely normal. You may have forgotten where you have put your precious ring, or trouble remembering someone’s name.

Dementia may also cause cloudy thinking. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. It starts with difficulty remembering things and having trouble organizing thoughts. Unlike the “brain fog” associated with menopause, though, Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease and gets worse over time.

Other symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:

  • difficulty performing daily tasks
  • changes in mood, personality, or behavior
  • difficulty making decisions
  • getting lost, even in familiar places

Treatment

In many women, menopause “brain fog” may be mild and go away on its own with time. More severe memory issues may cause you to neglect your personal hygiene, forget the name of familiar objects, or have difficulty following directions.

Once your doctor has ruled out other issues, like dementia, you may explore menopausal hormone therapy. This treatment involves taking either low-dose estrogen or a combination of estrogen and progestin. These hormones may help with the many symptoms you experience during menopause, not just memory loss.

Long-term use of estrogen may increase your risk of breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other health issues. Speak with your doctor about the benefits versus the risks of this type of treatment.

Prevention

You may not be able to prevent the “brain fog” associated with menopause. Still, there are some lifestyle changes you can make that may ease your symptoms and improve your memory overall.

Eat a well-balanced diet

The Mediterranean diet, for example, may help with brain health because it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other unsaturated fats.

Good food choices include:

  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • whole grains
  • fish
  • beans and nuts
  • olive oil

Get enough rest

Your sleep quality may make your “brain fog” worse. With sleep problems high on the list of symptoms associated with menopause, getting in enough rest can be a tall order.

  • Work on relaxation. Stress can make snoozing even more difficult. Try deep breathing, yoga, or massage.
  • Skip stimulants like caffeine and nicotine before bed. Alcohol may also disrupt your sleep.
  • Exercise your mind
  • Exercise your brain