Memory Lost & Found: Menopause’s Hidden Impact

So much of what women experience with menopause is visible on the outside – hot flashes, sleep disturbances, weight gain, changes in hair or skin, and mood swings that resemble rollercoaster rides. Unlike its more conspicuous counterparts, cognitive decline during menopause can quietly weave into our lives, leaving us unaware of its impact on our memory. Yet, nearly 70% of women report cognitive decline during menopause. We often dismiss it as a symptom of aging or having an off day, but cognitive decline, commonly called “brain fog,” is real. While hot flashes ultimately go away on their own, the cognitive decline will worsen if not addressed.

The Role of Estrogen in the Brain

Estrogen plays a pivotal role in brain function. An essential hormone in a woman’s body, estrogen enhances synaptic plasticity, which promotes the growth and maintenance of neural connections. Think of them as wires that connect different parts of your brain, allowing them to communicate and work together effectively.

Estrogen regulates neurotransmitter levels, including serotonin and dopamine, which are essential for mood regulation and cognitive processes. Serotonin and dopamine are often called the “feel-good” neurotransmitters because they contribute to feelings of happiness, well-being, and motivation. Serotonin regulates mood, appetite, and sleep, while dopamine is linked to reward and motivation. Balanced estrogen helps maintain optimal levels of these neurotransmitters, promoting emotional stability and cognitive function.

Additionally, estrogen aids in producing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports existing neurons’ survival and encourages new ones’ growth. This means that estrogen helps keep your brain healthy by ensuring the brain cells you already have stay strong and promoting the development of new ones.

With this information, it is easier to understand how the loss of estrogen during menopause can have a downward effect on the brain and working memory.

Understanding Cognitive Decline

Cognitive decline during menopause varies from woman to woman and may not always appear. It can sneak up slowly without us realizing it. Sometimes, we think forgetting things is just a normal part of getting older or being stressed without knowing it’s a sign of cognitive decline. This can make everyday tasks take longer to finish, making decisions seem more complicated than they used to be. Specifically, this decline often happens in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which affects our ability to remember things right away, like where we put our keys or what we were talking about. That which we need to process in the brain “at this moment” is called Working memory and can affect:

  • Forgetfulness about appointments, numbers, directions, or tasks
  • Difficulty concentrating, staying focused, or engaging in conversations
  • Slower processing speed, leading to delays in decision-making
  • Struggling to recall names or words mid-conversation

While cognitive decline during menopause can be concerning, there are options available to help alleviate its effects.

The Potential of Estriol in Cognitive Loss Prevention

Research suggests that replenishing estrogen levels can help prevent cognitive decline during menopause. One such option is PearlPAK™ by CleopatraRX, a prescription therapy delivered in a capsule and taken by mouth once per day. It is similar to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in that it involves replenishing declining hormone levels to restore balance in the body. PearlPAK therapy differs from HRT in that it uses a patented blend of estriol as its estrogen, whereas HRT uses estradiol, another type of estrogen. While estradiol and estriol can lessen menopausal symptoms, only estriol has neuroprotective properties that can help support and maintain brain health, improving active memory. This functional benefit plays a crucial role in preventing brain fog during menopause.

Estriol is a type of estrogen that also plays a role in hair preservation and skin elasticity, metabolism, sexual desire (libido), uterine health, and the immune system. The addition of progesterone protects the uterine lining and promotes sleep health.

Every menopause journey is unique, but understanding the nuances of memory loss and cognitive decline can empower women to take proactive steps in managing their health. By recognizing the importance of estrogen in brain function and exploring options like estriol therapy, women can reclaim their mental clarity and brain health during menopause.

Remember, we may not always know what we’ve missed until it returns, but with knowledge and support, we can navigate menopause with resilience and grace.