If you walk into a room and forget why you went there or have trouble remembering something your daughter just told you, you aren’t alone.
Approximately two-thirds of women in perimenopause and menopause experience some kind of cognitive difficulties, or brain fog, during this stage of life. It can feel frustrating. You may have trouble organizing tasks, making plans and seeing them through, or forget where you put the car keys.
Estrogen and the Brain
Menopause-related cognitive impairment can be attributed to a decrease in estrogen production. Estrogen helps the brain function and is influential to the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex – the regions of the brain responsible for learning, registering, and retrieving information and memories. When estrogen decreases, there is a related drop in synapse formation. Synapses are essentially bridges that allow neurons and chemical signals to travel to and from the brain. They are a major player in brain communication. When fewer synapses are formed, cognition and mood can be affected. Mood disturbances can worsen brain fog.
Another result of estrogen deficiency is reduced cardiovascular health, which can also negatively affect the brain and its health.
Brain Fog During Menopause
Studies show that women in the early stages of menopause experience notable issues in their cognitive ability. Even more specifically, women in their first year of menopause tested the lowest after evaluating their verbal learning, memory, motor function, and ability to concentrate. Overtime, their memory improved.
During perimenopause, your body goes through the most severe changes – wildly fluctuating hormones, a large range of symptoms, and unfamiliar bodily changes. The average stage of perimenopause lasts 4 years, so during the first full year of menopause, a lot of those changes are beginning to balance out to their “new normal” state.
Brain fog is linked to other signs and symptoms of menopause such as mood swings, sleep disturbances, and vascular symptoms like hot flashes.
Prevention of Brain Fog
For many women in menopause, brain fog is a mild symptom and it will go away on its own. For others, using a supplement or treatment like the PearlPAK can help moderate symptoms.
There are some lifestyle changes that can be made to help ward off unwanted brain fog.
What you eat plays a large role in your brain activity and overall health, that’s no secret. Eating foods that are high in fat and cholesterol are bad for the brain and heart. A diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, that is high in Omega-3 and unsaturated fats is proven to help with brain health and function. Eating nuts and seeds, fish, eggs, kale, broccoli, and whole grain helps promote memory and brain health.
Exercise is recommended for everyone – not just women going through menopause. But the endorphins that are released when you exercise are great for boosting your mood and can help relieve symptoms like forgetfulness. Physicians suggest to get moving for 30 minutes a day, doing something like walking, swimming, or jogging that will increase your blood flow and heart rate.
Physical activity is healthy for your whole body, but exercising your brain can help train your brain to retain memory and develop concentration tactics. Doing the daily crossword puzzle in the newspaper gives your brain a workout. Other tasks like making lists and organizing things helps your brain stay focused, as well as creative outlets like crafts and playing a musical instrument.
Nothing that a little sleep can’t help. Getting a good night’s rest lets the brain rest. However, poor sleep can actually make your brain fog worse. Many women in menopause report insomnia as a symptom. Ways to help combat insomnia may include:
- Not having coffee or alcohol before bed
- Sleep with a fan on to help regulate body temperature
- Limit spicy food or heavy meals before bed. They contribute to hot flashes
- Meditate or try relaxation techniques before falling asleep
Brain fog and memory impairment will get better with time as your body adjusts to menopause and this new stage of life. Incorporating ways to help your body battle the forgetfulness and cognitive function will help restore some sense of normalcy in your everyday life.
If you suffer from severe brain fog, talk to one of our online physicians today to learn more about our treatments offerings.