Memory Loss and Menopause
One of the more troubling symptoms of menopause is memory loss because it triggers other anxieties like whether this could be early-onset dementia. But before you worry that your brain is on a journey toward permanent decline, let’s talk about the difference between menopausal brain fog and Alzheimer’s, and what you can do to keep your brain in excellent shape during this time of your life.
What Happens to Your Brain During Menopause
When your body stops producing as much estrogen as it once did, mild memory lapses (sometimes called brain fog) can be triggered. The good news is that, for many women, this condition is temporary, and your brain will naturally return to its prior function. Memory loss is separate from the expected consequences of aging, and so it shouldn’t signal an overall decline in brain function. Focus and working memory tend to deteriorate, which is the part of your brain that absorbs new information.
Over half of women experience this brain fog, and some cases are more severe than others. Even though this condition is common and temporary, occasionally, it is misdiagnosed as something more serious. This decrease in cognitive function can cause anxiety, and interestingly, it is not caused by the other menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, insomnia, or depression. However, treating the other symptoms may alleviate memory loss according to one study. But take heart, because women with menopausal brain fog still typically outperform men on memory tests.
Brain Fog Versus Alzheimer’s
Though brain fog can be extremely irritating, worrying that it may be a sign of something serious is often worse. Thankfully, there are a few ways to delineate between menopausal memory loss and Alzheimer’s or dementia. Typical symptoms for brain fog include having trouble coming up with the word you’re looking for, needing to stick to a routine to remember certain things, and occasional forgetfulness. Signs of Alzheimer’s include more severe indicators, like everyday life-disrupting memory loss, trouble completing simple tasks, forgetting the day, time, or season (without remembering later), and changes in mood like confusion or suspicion. If you feel like you are experiencing significant brain fog, never hesitate to reach out to your doctor to identify any other underlying causes of memory loss.
Tips for Better Brain Health During Menopause
You don’t have to suffer through brain fog, just like you don’t have to suffer through vaginal dryness and other symptoms of menopoause. You can take action instead, and fortunately, some of the lifestyle changes are fun! These tips will help you improve cognitive function until the temporary brain fog ends, and your mind returns to its former state of sharpness.
Cheers to your memory: two glasses of red wine each week can help mitigate brain fog because of the amount of resveratrol they contain. Physical exercise safeguards your memory and lessens the impact of brain fog. But don’t forget to give your mind some exercise, too; crossword puzzles and other games can help improve your semantic memory. Eating a diet that has plenty of omega-3 fatty acids can promote brain function, as well.
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