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Navigating the Fog: Understanding Menopause-Related Brain Fog

✍🏼 Sameeha Jaffer Ali | Bsc Biomedical Science Graduate from Aston University

 

What is menopause? 👩

Women, and other people with ovaries (this may include trans men, non-binary people, and intersex people) experience the menopause

It is a natural biological event that usually occurs between the ages of 44 and 55. The period of time in which the body starts to transition into menopause is called perimenopause. During this time, the level of oestrogen (which is a female sex hormone that has a role in menstruation, fertility and many other functions) significantly decrease, and the ovaries start to gradually lose their function.


Menopause is a scary event for a lot of people. The hormonal imbalances occurring at this time can cause a myriad of physical, mental, and emotional changes, which most women are not prepared for. Symptoms experienced during menopause can vary for each person - many of which negatively affect a persons quality of life.


Common symptoms include:

  • Hot flushes

  • Night sweats

  • Irregular periods

  • Urinary incontinence (loss of bladder control)

  • Insomnia (difficulty sleeping)

  • Mood swings

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

 

What is brain fog?🧠

‘Brain fog’ or ‘mental fog’ is a term used to describe suppressed cognitive function.

It refers to a feeling of mental cloudiness that makes it hard for a person to remember things or organise and voice their thoughts.


Symptoms of brain fog include:

  • Difficulty remembering things

  • Difficulty organising thoughts

  • Difficulty grasping simple concepts

  • Struggling to multitask

  • Struggling to communicate

  • Becoming easily distracted

  • Feeling fatigued


In most cases, brain fog is caused by either a lack of sleep, stress, hormonal changes or medication.

 

How common is brain fog in menopause? 🌫️

Brain fog is one of the many troubling symptoms of menopause. As if the hot flushes, mood swings and painful cramps aren’t enough to deal with, many people also go through the feeling of obtuseness during their midlife years.


Reports of forgetfulness and limited cognition are most common in the years leading up to menopause. An Australian study that recruited 130 women aged 40-60 and assessed various aspects of their memory, found that women in perimenopause reported more frequent forgetting and discontentment with their memory.

 

So, what causes the cognitive decline in menopause? 📉

The exact causes of brain fog in menopause are not completely clear however, there are specific factors that have been linked to its onset.

One example is decreased levels of oestradiol (a form of oestrogen). Regions in the brain that are responsible for memory, planning and problem-solving are filled with oestrogen receptors. During menopause, the amount of oestrogen produced by the ovaries is dramatically reduced, and less oestrogen reaches these brain regions. This reduction is believed to be linked with the decline of memory and other cognitive functions.


 

Is brain fog during menopause serious?👩‍⚕️

Brain fog at menopause should not be confused with early-stage dementia

Occasional fogginess is normal and nothing to be concerned about. But, regularly forgetting tasks and finding it hard to focus can definitely have someone questioning their cognitive health. Many people with brain fog believe a more serious condition could be at play, such as dementia.


Dementia is the continuous decline in cognitive function – an example is Alzheimer’s disease. Some research suggests a potential correlation between menopause-related brain fog and increased risk of dementia. The temporary brain changes seen in menopause are thought to potentially persist and lead to dementia in late life. However, evidence for this is scarce and dementia before 65 years is rare. People who have a first-degree relative with dementia are at a higher risk of developing dementia later on in life.

 

How can brain fog be managed?🤔

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and lifestyle changes can help combat brain fog.

Brain fog can be quite frustrating, especially when it interferes with performance at work or while socialising. Some people choose medical interventions (specifically HRT) to find relief from symptoms.


HRT is a popular treatment aimed at relieving menopause symptoms. The treatment involves supplementing women with low-dose oestrogen (and sometimes progesterone) to replace the levels lost. It’s an effective method of alleviating hot flushes, night sweats and a bunch of other common symptoms. Luckily, HRT also has the ability to relieve brain fog in some menopausal people. Studies have shown administering oestrogen for women, closer to the time of menopause, is effective at preserving cognitive function and reducing brain fog.


Although HRT shows potential in this aspect, the easiest and probably more budget-friendly method of tackling brain fog (not just for people going through the menopause, but for everyone) is simply making a few lifestyle changes.


A list of 5 ways you can combat brain fog. This includes, exercising often, eating healthy, meditating, avoiding alcohol and sleeping well.
Some examples of things you can do to combat brain fog!

 
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Edited by: Olivia Laughton | Content Editor | BSc Microbiology, University of Leeds


 
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Menopause-related brain fog refers to a cognitive symptom commonly experienced by some women during perimenopause and menopause. It is characterized by difficulties with concentration, memory, and mental clarity. While not all women experience brain fog during menopause, those who do may find it challenging to focus, remember details, or process information as efficiently as they used to. Here are some key points to understand about menopause-related brain fog:


1. Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels, specifically estrogen and progesterone, during menopause are believed to contribute to brain fog. Estrogen plays a role in cognitive function, and its decline during menopause can affect memory and cognitive processes.


2. Symptoms of Brain Fog: Menopause-related brain fog can manifest as forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating,…


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Navigating the Fog: Understanding Menopause-Related Brain Fog


Menopause is a natural stage in a woman's life that marks the end of reproductive years. Along with various physical changes, menopause can also bring about cognitive symptoms commonly referred to as "brain fog." This term describes a range of cognitive difficulties, including memory lapses, difficulty concentrating, and mental fatigue that some women experience during menopause.


While the exact cause of menopause-related brain fog is not fully understood, hormonal fluctuations, particularly declining levels of estrogen, are believed to play a significant role. Estrogen has neuroprotective effects and influences cognitive function, so its reduction during menopause can impact brain processes.


Here are some key points to understand and navigate menopause-related brain fog:


1. Recognize…


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