“Difficulty concentrating and remembering are common complaints during perimenopause and the years right afterward”.1

Umbrella
What may the Menopause Memory Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Brain Fog
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Changes/Difficulties/Lapses
  • Cognitive Function
  • Concentration Changes/Difficulties/Lapses
  • Disorientation
  • Memory Changes/Difficulties/Lapses
  • Mental Confusion

Cognitive Function

What is cognitive function?

DotS the definition of cognitive function may vary. The North American Menopause Society’s (NAMS) definition is:

“Cognitive function. Conscious intellectual activity (thinking, reasoning, remembering)”.2

Brain Fog

What is brain fog?

DotS the definition of brain fog may vary. In ‘Brain Fog’ During Menopause Is Real – It Can Disrupt Women’s Work and Spark Dementia Fears: What Causes Menopausal Brain Fog? the authors’ definition is:

“Brain fog” is not a medical or psychological term, but a lay term that aptly describes the fogginess in thought experienced by many women during menopause”.3

Is brain fog a symptom of menopause?

Menopause MemoryIn The Fog of Menopause the (Australian) Jean Hailes for Women’s Health (JH) elaborate on:

“Nearly two-thirds of women experience brain fog as a symptom of menopause. It may involve difficulty remembering words or names, struggling to concentrate, or the common scenario of walking into a room for a particular reason but then completely forgetting what that reason was”.4

Cause

What may cause menopause memory difficulties?

In Memory & Dementia: Menopause & Memory the JH note:

“Some studies have linked a chemical imbalance (a drop in oestrogen) with memory and verbal function changes at this stage of a woman’s life. However, there are many other potentially stressful issues happening at the same time that need to be considered. Coping with teenagers, ageing parents with health problems, work, hot flushes, disturbed sleep, lack of libido and the effects of that on your relationship. These are all part of the context of your life stage and can certainly affect your memory”.5

In Menopause FAQs: Menopause Symptoms – Q. My memory is just not as good as it used to be, and it’s really bothering me. Does menopause cause this? Will it ever get better? the NAMS explain:

“A. Memory and other cognitive abilities change throughout life. Difficulty concentrating and remembering are common complaints during perimenopause and the years right afterward. Some data imply that even though there is a trend for memory to be worse during the menopause transition, memory after the transition is as good as it was before. Memory problems may be more related to normal cognitive aging, mood, and other factors than to menopause or the menopause transition”.6

Alzheimer’s Disease?

Is There A link With Alzheimer’s Disease?

In ‘Brain Fog’ During Menopause Is Real – It Can Disrupt Women’s Work and Spark Dementia Fears: Is There A link With Alzheimer’s Disease? the authors explain:

“Because similar symptoms may present during menopause and the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease (forgetfulness and word-finding difficulties) perimenopausal women can become concerned about dementia.

Women should be reassured that dementia that begins before age 65 – called young onset dementia – is not common (unless there is a family history of early-onset dementia). Forgetfulness and other cognitive difficulties during the menopausal transition are common and a normal part of menopause”.7

In Basics of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia: What Is Alzheimer’s Disease? the (United States) National Institute on Aging also note and elaborate on:

“In most people with the disease — those with the late-onset type — symptoms first appear in their mid-60s”.8

Nonprescription Remedies

Is there an association between nonprescription remedies and improved memory?

The NAMS caution:

“Women sometimes use nonprescription remedies to improve memory and other mental skills. Dietary supplements such as vitamin E, B vitamins, ginkgo biloba, and soy, among others, have generally failed to show significant cognitive benefits”.9

Hormone Therapy

Does hormone therapy have a clear benefit on cognitive function?

In ‘Brain Fog’ During Menopause Is Real – It Can Disrupt Women’s Work and Spark Dementia Fears: What Can Help? the author’s note:

“Although fluctuations and an eventual decline in estrogen play a role in cognitive difficulties, the use of hormone therapy does not appear to have a clear benefit on cognitive function (but evidence remains limited).

More research is needed to determine whether lifestyle factors can help menopausal brain fog. We do know exercise can improve cognition during midlife, mindfulness and meditation may be helpful”.10

Protective

What may be protective against brain fog?

In ‘Brain Fog’ During Menopause Is Real – It Can Disrupt Women’s Work and Spark Dementia Fears: What Can Help? the author’s definition is:

“Avoiding illicit drugs, prescription medication overuse, smoking and excessive alcohol may be protective. A diet that includes plant-based unprocessed foods (such as a Mediterranean diet), close social bonds and engagement, and a higher level of education have been broadly linked to better cognitive functioning during later life”.11

In The Fog of Menopause: Steps To Soothe and Sharpen Your Mind the JH elaborate on:

For those looking to improve their brain fog, and soothe and sharpen their mind, Assoc Prof Gurvich suggests the following:

  • Exercise is hugely beneficial
  • Mindfulness and meditation can be helpful in reducing levels of anxiety and stress
  • Boost your thinking skills through activities that challenge your brain in an enjoyable way. These might include learning a new language or a musical instrument or doing puzzles
  • Avoid illicit substances, smoking, or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Eat a Mediterranean diet. A diet rich in antioxidants is vital for brain health and the richest sources of these are found in brightly coloured vegetables and fruits – staples of the Mediterranean diet
  • Use a diary or a list to help put some structure in place to reduce anxiety. Take notes, use calendars and reminders”.12

Memory Tips

What are some tips to help memory?

In Memory Loss: 7 Tips To Improve Your Memory the (United States) Mayo Clinic elaborate on each of these 7 tips:

Menopause Memory

“Although there are no guarantees when it comes to preventing memory loss or dementia, certain activities might help. Consider seven simple ways to sharpen your memory — and know when to seek help for memory loss.

  1. Include physical activity in your daily routine…
  2. Stay mentally active…
  3. Socialize regularly…
  4. Get organized…
  5. Sleep well…
  6. Eat a healthy diet…
  7. Manage chronic conditions…”.13

Health Care Provider

What if I am concerned about my memory?

If you are concerned about your memory, it may be in your best interest to choose to talk to your health care provider about this. The Mayo Clinic note:

“If you’re worried about memory loss — especially if memory loss affects your ability to complete your usual daily activities or if you notice your memory getting worse — talk to your doctor. He or she will likely do a physical exam, as well as check your memory and problem-solving skills”.14

Health Topics A-Z

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Links

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Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

You may find the Sources quoted at:

Sources

  1. Menopause FAQs: Menopause Symptoms – Q. My memory is just not as good as it used to be, and it’s really bothering me. Does menopause cause this? Will it ever get better? North American Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-faqs-menopause-symptoms Accessed: 14 December 2021
  2. Menopause Glossary: C – Cognitive Function. North American Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-glossary#C Accessed: 14 December 2021
  3. Gurvich, C. Zhu, C. Arunogiri, S. ‘Brain Fog’ During Menopause Is Real – It Can Disrupt Women’s Work and Spark Dementia Fears: What Causes Menopausal Brain Fog? 14 December 2021 https://theconversation.com/brain-fog-during-menopause-is-real-it-can-disrupt-womens-work-and-spark-dementia-fears-173150 Accessed: 14 December 2021
  4. The Fog of Menopause. 13 December 2021. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/news/the-fog-of-menopause Accessed: 14 December 2021
  5. Memory & Dementia: Menopause & Memory. Last Updated: 07 December 2020 |  Last Reviewed: 10 March 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/mental-emotional-health/memory-dementia Accessed: 14 December 2021
  6. Menopause FAQs: Menopause Symptoms – Q. My memory is just not as good as it used to be, and it’s really bothering me. Does menopause cause this? Will it ever get better? North American Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-faqs-menopause-symptoms Accessed: 14 December 2021
  7. Gurvich, C. Zhu, C. Arunogiri, S. ‘Brain Fog’ During Menopause Is Real – It Can Disrupt Women’s Work and Spark Dementia Fears: Is There A Link With Alzheimer’s Disease? 14 December 2021 https://theconversation.com/brain-fog-during-menopause-is-real-it-can-disrupt-womens-work-and-spark-dementia-fears-173150 Accessed: 14 December 2021
  8. Basics of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia: What Is Alzheimer’s Disease? Content Reviewed: 08 July 2021. National Institute on Aging https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-alzheimers-disease Accessed: 14 December 2021
  9. Menopause FAQs: Menopause Symptoms – Q. My memory is just not as good as it used to be, and it’s really bothering me. Does menopause cause this? Will it ever get better? North American Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-faqs-menopause-symptoms Accessed: 14 December 2021
  10. Gurvich, C. Zhu, C. Arunogiri, S. ‘Brain Fog’ During Menopause Is Real – It Can Disrupt Women’s Work and Spark Dementia Fears: What Can Help? 14 December 2021 https://theconversation.com/brain-fog-during-menopause-is-real-it-can-disrupt-womens-work-and-spark-dementia-fears-173150 Accessed: 14 December 2021
  11. Gurvich, C. Zhu, C. Arunogiri, S. ‘Brain Fog’ During Menopause Is Real – It Can Disrupt Women’s Work and Spark Dementia Fears: What Can Help? 14 December 2021 https://theconversation.com/brain-fog-during-menopause-is-real-it-can-disrupt-womens-work-and-spark Accessed: 14 December 2021
  12. The Fog of Menopause: Steps To Sooth and Sharpen Your Mind. 13 December 2021. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/news/the-fog-of-menopause Accessed: 14 December 2021
  13. Healthy Aging – Memory Loss: 7 Tips To Improve Your Memory. 10 March 2021. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/memory-loss/art-20046518 Accessed: 14 December 2021
  14. Healthy Aging: – Memory Loss: 7 Tips To Improve Your Memory: When To Seek Help for Memory Loss. 10 March 2021. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/memory-loss/art-20046518 Accessed: 14 December 2021

Topic Last Updated: 18 January 2022  – Topic Last Reviewed: 14 December 2021
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