Menopause is tough enough already with physical symptoms from hot flashes through to fatigue, weight gain and mood swings.
On top of this, it can seem like you’re losing your mind at times…
You go upstairs to get something only to find when you get there, you can’t remember what you wanted.
With up to 60% of women experiencing brain fog, you’re not alone. (1)
What does this mean, though?
What Exactly Is Brain Fog?
There’s still plenty of debate when it comes to accurately defining brain fog. (2)
Starting during perimenopause when women enter the menopause transition, verbal learning and verbal memory skills can take a battering. This can cause forgetfulness. (3)
Working memory can also be affected. This makes it tougher to take new information on board and also makes you prone to forgetting things easily.
While remembering what you need at the store is an important part of memory, manipulating information and focusing on tasks can also be impacted. (4)
The main symptoms of brain fog can be summarized as follows:
- General forgetfulness
- Problems thinking clearly
- Difficulty processing information
- Issues with concentration
What brings about menopause brain fog in the first place?
As well as the contributory factors of insomnia, fatigue, a poor diet and stress, there are some important hormonal changes occurring during the change that can seriously impair your memory function. We’ll look at these right now.
The Hormones That Are Affecting Your Thought Process
Put simply, hormonal change is responsible for the irritating impairment brought about by brain fog.
Estrogen levels fall during menopause. Estradiol is a type of estrogen produced by your ovaries that enhances learning and memory. Studies have shown that as levels of estradiol dip, memory performance worsens. (5) (6)
The amount of estrogen can also affect mental clarity and your thought process in general.
Estrogen also encourages the growth of new brain cells so the falling levels of this hormone during menopause can inhibit this, too. (7)
Indirectly, flagging levels of estrogen can provoke a lack of sleep, drop in mood and stress which don’t help memory function either.
As well as the negative effects of lowered levels of estrogen, a reduction in testosterone can also harm memory. (8)
Progesterone can also be linked to poor memory performance so, when you put all these hormonal changes together, it’s hardly surprising that you’ll experience menopausal brain fog. (9)
Now you know some reasons why brain fog kicks in before and during menopause, what can you do to fight back?
Luckily, there are several ways you can counter the effects of brain fog…
How To Counter The Effects of Brain Fog
While reading the above might lead you to imagine hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the answer, that’s not necessarily the case. The role of HRT in improving cognition has been called into question. (10)
Testosterone gel, on the other hand, can be beneficial. (11)
So, if you want to undertake HRT for general relief from menopause symptoms, that’s your decision. With brain fog specifically, you might consider the following natural remedies.
- Get Plenty of Sleep: Aiming for at least 8 hours of sleep each night. While hot flashes can prevent you from sleeping as soundly as you’d like, prioritize your sleep health. Sleep helps keep your brain firing on all cylinders and can really help with memory function. (12)(13)
- Exercise More: Regular physical exercise is one of the best natural approaches to enhance your brain health as well as that of your body. You don’t need to go over the top but incorporate some moderate cardio into your daily routine to bite back at the menace of brain fog. (14)
- Flex Your Memory Muscles: Use it or lose it. Stay sharper by trying some crossword puzzles or Sudoku problems. Naturally strengthening your brain power can be surprisingly effective.
- Eat Better: Eating a diet packed with healthy and natural foods while avoiding processed junk food helps your brain get all the nutrients it needs to perform better. Cut out sugar, additives and trans fats. Focus on healthy fats and protein while dialling back on the carbs. Combine this with proper hydration and you’re well on your way to combating brain fog.
- Deal With Stress: Relaxing to deal with your problems by meditating can decrease levels of cortisol and lower your stress levels naturally. Don’t let menopause symptoms like brain fog get on top of you. (15)
How Long These Brain Fog Symptoms Will Last
It’s all well and good to deal with the symptoms of brain fog but how long do these nasty symptoms last?
The good news is that symptoms don’t last forever and brain fog will not put you at risk of any long-term brain disorder.
Research shows that these symptoms usually drop off after menopause so, once you’ve undergone the change, you can enjoy an improvement in your memory with no lasting ill effects. (16)
Vergo is an interactive program that gives women the tools to understand their Menopause.
- The Vergo iOS symptom tracker (emailable to your healthcare provider)
- The Vergo QuikTrak symptom tracker (the refillable pdf version, also emailable)
- Vergo’s Interactive Education Program, Journey Without a Roadmap: Understanding Menopause
- Curated guides to the biggest questions and hottest topics around menopause symptoms and treatment options
- Must-have information on male menopause: There’s an Andropause? (an overview of what your guy could be going through)
- Terminology Cheat Sheets
Click the button below for more information!