Raise your hand if you’ve experienced a lack of focus and mental clarity, poor concentration, or slower decision-making since menopause showed up. If yes, then that is what we call menopause brain fog. Menopause brain fog is a real thing, and we’re here to give you a few tips on how to manage it.
So, What Is The Menopause Brain Fog?
Historically, women have complained about a certain mental block that seems to occur around the time of menopause. Some report having a hard time thinking, as well as difficulty concentrating. Frustratingly, a lot of women have had their worries dismissed over the years, and only recently has proper research been done on the menopause brain fog.
Now that scientists are looking further into this fog, it turns out that all this time we weren’t kidding! Brigham Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston have produced studies that seem to show a rise in forgetfulness at the same time that women’s estrogen levels drop. This forgetfulness also coincides with the age range in which most women experience menopause: 45 to 55 years old. In other words, we ladies were completely right about what we were feeling. We’re having real medical issues that affect our ability to process memory-related tasks.
But Should I Be Worried?
Like menopause itself, menopause brain fog isn’t exactly avoidable. Some research shows that 60% of women experience brain fog. Many chalk it up as part of aging but that doesn’t eliminate the frustration. In fact, it’s actually pretty scary.
Brain fog coincides with a change in hormones, which most likely affects the hippocampus. Our hippocampus is the part of our brain that processes memory, and it can affect your ability to think logically.
With that being said, the menopause brain fog often goes away on its own. After some time, our brain will adjust to the new hormonal levels you’re experiencing. However, if your memory loss is causing you to experience a serious disruption in your daily routine, or interferes with your safety or personal hygiene, you should check in with your physician. Your doctor can help you rule out more serious issues, and can also discuss potential treatments with you.
Is There Medication For The Brain Fog?
As of now, there aren’t medications available that specifically treat the menopause brain fog. But you can consider taking estrogen supplements, which could also help you with other symptoms related to menopause. Keep in mind that estrogen supplements have their own side effects, and you should discuss their pros and cons with your doctor before taking them.
How Can I Strengthen My Memory?
As you age and prepare for menopause, there are ways that you can prepare your body and mind. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly is half the battle, believe it or not! Try to get as much rest as possible. Menopause can bring on a lot of changes that leave women uncomfortable and unable to sleep regularly, so try to get the sleep that you can before menopause starts.
What Can I Do After The Brain Fog Begins?
When it comes to memory specifically, you should try to use memory-strengthening games, both before menopause starts and after the fog sets in. These games and tasks can make a big difference. Try downloading a repetition app specifically meant to help you with your memory. It’s a simple way to keep your brain trained.
Pick Up A New Skill
If you’re not interested in those types of games, there are plenty of other ways to keep your mind sharp by picking up a new skill. Try taking violin lessons, or picking up a foreign language. Play scrabble or read more. But don’t let your fear of the menopause brain fog keep you from going out and about and enjoying life as you always have. It’s just a part of aging. As your mind adjusts, it won’t be nearly as much of an issue as you might imagine.
Beat The Fog
Menopause can certainly cause frustration and lots of changes. However, keep an upbeat attitude, and face it head on. Being prepared for symptoms like brain fog will go a long way towards helping you cope. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance or guidance from your doctor or friends who have experienced it before you. You’re not alone!
By Jessica Thomas, MPH