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Shining Light on the Fog of "Menopause Brain"

Brain Fog during menopause

About half of women going through menopause will experience 'menopause brain'. Menopause Brain refers to slowed cognition that happens during menopause. The loss of estrogen impacts energy metabolism in the brain leading to literal slowing down of brain cells. You may notice this in areas such as short term learning, verbal memory and concentration. Sometimes people feel that they struggle to find words, can’t remember short term things (like why they went into a room) or that their focus at work or in their lives has changed. This complex issue is also influenced by the other hormones that are changing at this time too.

I want you to know that Menopause Brain is temporary.

Hopefully that lead you to let out the breath that you've been holding. I am not downplaying the impact it's having on you I just want you to first and foremost know that once your hormones have stopped fluctuating and your brain's endogenous estrogen production has kicked in you will start to feel better. The amount of women who still feel foggy after menopause is about 4.5%.

What isn't Menopause Brain?

If it's been years since you went through menopause and you're starting to notice cognitive issues now, then we can't blame hormones for this.

Should I Take Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for Menopause Brain?

The current guideline is that HRT is only recommended for cognitive decline in patients who were put into menopause early, and then to be on it until the age of natural menopause. If you have menopause brain only then it isn't considered indicated to start HRT for this at this time. However, if you have really bad hot flashes, insomnia, menopause brain, and depression and it's deemed helpful to start HRT for the totallity of your symptoms you can likely expect some relief.

What Else Can I Take to Help With Menopause Brain?

A few ways you can support your cognitive health right now:

  1. Address your other menopause symptoms. Changes to sleep, mood, and temperature will all worsen daytime focus and attention.

  2. Include the MIND diet principles in your nutrition plan (upcoming blog post about this)

  3. Reduce your use of alcohol and stimulants like caffeine (especially if they get in the way of your sleep)

  4. Include mind-body techniques that improve your ability to handle stress. Women have a lot of responsibilities at this point in their lives! Juggling family, jobs, older relatives that may need assistance... it all takes a toll. Yoga, journaling, and exercise can help focus and attention during the day. Choose something you can be consistent with and know that even just a few minutes a day is more beneficial than nothing.

Can Menopause Brain Cause Dementia?

Whoa. Hold on. I already said that menopause brain is temporary so why include dementia here? While it's true that menopause brain is temporary, there is a two-fold increased risk for developing dementia later in life if you experience 'cognitive impairment' at some point.

What Can I Do to Prevent Dementia?

I support patients not only through this transition but I want to set you up for healthy aging past this time in your life. Prevention is the best medicine for brain health.

  1. First and foremost, test if you have any nutritional deficiencies and if so then treat them. Iron, omegas, vitmain B12, vitamin D.. there are a number of items that can lead to a decline in brain health. It's better to treat if there IS a deficiency, than to recommend supplementation across the board.

2. Sleep is pivotal to overall health and impacts many pillars including cognition. We need sleep to consolidate memory and remove byproducts from our brains. Sleep disturbances frequently precede a diagnosis of Alzheimer's Dementia, and meta-analyses have found that issues here are associated with an increased risk of preclinical AD, cognitive impairment, and AD.

3. The MIND diet has lots of research to slow down cognitive 'aging', and i have a whole blog post about it coming up!

Here are some health factors to keep an eye on that can impact cognition as you age:

  1. Cardiovascular health and blood sugar over the next 5 years

  2. Changes to your daytime focus, attention, and memory that extend past the menopause transition

  3. A strong family of dementia

  4. Head injuries

By paying attention to your cognitive health in your 40s, 50s and early 60s we can have a positive impact on the likelihood of developing age related cognitive decline. Nutrition and exercise make an enormous impact and our goals should be to create sustainable change in your health plan that you can carry forward for years to come.

Do/Did you experience menopause brain?

  • Yes

  • No


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