“Perimenopause (when periods start to become irregular, and menopause symptoms begin) is known to be a time of memory lapses, poor concentration and ‘foggy’…”.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

Cognition

What is cognition?

DotS the definition of cognition may vary. The (United States) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition is:

“Cognition is a combination of mental processes that includes the ability to learn new things, intuition, judgment, language, and remembering”.2

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)”.3

Menopause Memory

Is there an association between menopause and memory?

On page three in Maintaining Health and Preventing Disease After the Menopause: Reducing Cognitive Decline Post Menopause the International Menopause Society elaborate on:

“Dementia, even more than cancer, is the principal health concern of many older adults. During the natural menopause transition and early post menopause, some women notice forgetfulness or other cognitive symptoms, which can raise concerns of mental decline. During the menopause transition, there may in fact be modest reductions in aspects of attention, but natural menopause does not appear to lead to poorer memory”.4

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:

Menopause Memory“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”.5

In Memory & Dementia: Menopause & Memory the (Australian) Jean Hailes for Women’s Health (JH) note:

“Perimenopause (when periods start to become irregular, and menopause symptoms begin) is known to be a time of memory lapses, poor concentration and ‘foggy’ thinking. Sixty per cent of women report memory complaints with menopause”.6

The JH also 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”.7

Dementia

Does a change in memory mean dementia?

In Memory & Dementia: Menopause & Memory – Dementia the JH elaborate on:

“A change in your memory does not mean you have dementia. As the brain naturally ages it becomes more difficult to learn and retain new information, but most complex skills are not lost. Dementia is not a normal part of ageing”.8

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

“In most people with the disease—those with the late-onset type—symptoms first appear in their mid-60s”.9

Alzheimer’s or Age

What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and typical age-related memory loss?

In 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s the (United States) Alzheimer’s Association include What Is the Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Typical Age-Related Changes?

Prevention

What may help prevent memory loss?

The NAMS note:

“Maintaining an extensive social network, remaining physically and mentally active, consuming a healthy diet, not smoking, and consuming alcohol in moderation may all help prevent memory loss”.10

The NAMS also note:

“Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) may also contribute to mental decline. Aim for normal cholesterol, normal weight, and normal blood pressure to help protect your brain”.11

Memory Tips

What are some tips to help memory?

The JH explain:

“Tips To Help Memory

  • “Reduce distractions – turn down (or off) the radio/TV
  • Repeat (out loud) and rehearse (in our heads) new information
  • Associate new information with something already known
  • Rhymes help to imprint memory – just as you learnt your times tables
  • If possible add a smell, taste, colour to the memory
  • Grouping information can help recall
  • Draw pictures or make up silly sentences to remember key words
  • Use diaries, calendars, computers and reminder apps on your phone to store dates and events”.12

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

“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

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”.14

Menopausal Hormone Therapy

What is one of the points of consensus about menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) and cognition?

One of the points of consensus in the Revised Global Consensus Statement on Menopausal Hormone Therapy: Section A: Benefit/Risk Profile of MHT – endorsed by seven menopause-related organizations – published online 20 June 2016, is:

  • “MHT initiated in early menopause has no substantial effect on cognition, but, based on observational studies, it may prevent Alzheimer’s disease in later life. In RCTs, oral MHT initiated in women aged 65 or older also has no substantial effect on cognition and increases the risk of dementia”.15

What is RCTs?

RCTs may be an abbreviation Randomized Controlled Trials.

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 NAMS explain:

“Women who are concerned about declining cognitive performance are advised to consult with their healthcare providers”.16

In Menopause: Emotional Aspects (Including Depression) – Outlook / Prognosis: Is Having A Hard Time Concentrating and Being Forgetful A Normal Part of Menopause? the (United States) Cleveland Clinic note:

“Unfortunately, difficulty with concentrating and minor memory problems can be a normal part of menopause. Doctors don’t understand why memory changes occur with menopause and there are currently no treatments available to relieve these symptoms. If you are having memory problems, talk to your doctor. He or she can at least provide some reassurance. Also, activities that stimulate the brain can help rejuvenate memory, such as doing crossword puzzles, longhand mathematics, and reading books. Make sure to minimize passive activities such as watching TV, and get plenty of exercise. Keep in mind that depression and anxiety can cause problems with memory and may make memory concerns more noticeable”.17

The Mayo Clinic also 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”.18

Health Topics A-Z

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Links

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Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted above?

You may find the Sources at:

Sources

  1. Memory & Dementia: Menopause & Memory. Last Updated 21 January 2016  — Last Reviewed 10 March 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health http://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/mental-emotional-health/memory-dementia Accessed: 11 September 2019
  2. Healthy Brain Initiative. Page Last Reviewed: 29 August 2019. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/aging/healthybrain/index.htm Accessed: 11 September 2019
  3. Menopause Glossary: C – Cognitive Function. North American Menopause Society http://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-glossary#C Accessed: 11 September 2019
  4. Maintaining Health and Preventing Disease After the Menopause: Reducing Cognitive Decline Post Menopause. 2014:3. International Menopause Society http://www.imsociety.org/downloads/world_menopause_day_2014/booklets/ims_wmd_booklet_2014_english.pdf Accessed: 11 September 2019
  5. 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 http://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-faqs-menopause-symptoms Accessed: 11 September 2019
  6. Memory & Dementia: Menopause & Memory. Last Updated 21 January 2016 — Last Reviewed 10 March 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health http://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/mental-emotional-health/memory-dementia Accessed: 11 September 2019
  7. Memory & Dementia: Menopause & Memory. Last Updated 21 January 2016  — Last Reviewed 10 March 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health http://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/mental-emotional-health/memory-dementia Accessed: 11 September 2019
  8. Memory & Dementia: Dementia. Last Updated  21 January 2016 — Last Reviewed 10 March 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health http://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/mental-emotional-health/memory-dementia Accessed: 11 September 2019
  9. Basics of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia: What Is Alzheimer’s Disease? Content Reviewed: 16 May 2017. National Institute on Aging https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-alzheimers-disease Accessed: 11 September 2019
  10. 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 http://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-faqs-menopause-symptoms Accessed: 11 September 2019
  11. 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 http://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-faqs-menopause-symptoms Accessed: 11 September 2019
  12. Memory: How To Protect and Improve It – Tips To Help Memory. Jean Hailes Magazine 2014 Vol 1:13. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/contents/documents/Resources/JH_Magazine/JeanHailes_Magazine_2014_Vol1.pdf Accessed: 11 September 2019
  13. Healthy Aging – Memory Loss: 7 Tips To Improve Your Memory. 16 January 2019. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/memory-loss/art-20046518 Accessed: 11 September 2019
  14. North American Menopause Society. Menopause Guidebook 5. Midlife Body Changes: Memory, Concentration, and Cognition. 8th Edition 2015:36
  15. De Villiers, T. J., Hall, J. E., Pinkerton, J. V., Pérez, S. C., Rees, M., Yang, C. and Pierroz, D. D. Revised Global Consensus Statement on Menopausal Hormone Therapy: Section A: Benefit/Risk Profile of MHT. Climacteric, 2016;19:4:314 http://www.imsociety.org/manage/images/pdf/ba6379e868044bec13015ac2b84f2753.pdf Accessed: 11 September 2019
  16. 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 http://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-faqs-menopause-symptoms Accessed: 11 September 2019
  17. Menopause: Emotional Aspects (Including Depression) – Outlook / Prognosis: Is Having A Hard Time Concentrating and Being Forgetful A Normal Part of Menopause? This Document Was Last Reviewed on: 16 January 2017. Cleveland Clinic https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15231-menopause-emotional-aspects-including-depression/outlook–prognosis Accessed: 11 September 2019
  18. Healthy Aging: – Memory Loss: 7 Tips To Improve Your Memory: When To Seek Help for Memory Loss. 16 January 2019. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/memory-loss/art-20046518 Accessed: 11 September 2019
Topic Last Updated: 11 September 2019 – Topic Last Reviewed: 11 September 2019
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