“Menopause brain fog is a group of symptoms
that happens around the time of the menopause, including
difficulty remembering words and numbers…”.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. On page one in their Patient Information Leaflet – Brain Fog and Memory Difficulties In Menopause: What Is Menopausal Brain Fog?, published October 2022, the International Menopause Society’s (IMS) definition is:

“Menopause brain fog is a group of symptoms that happens around the time of the menopause, including difficulty remembering words and numbers, disruptions in daily life (misplacing items like keys), trouble concentrating (absent mindedness, losing a train of thought, being more easily distracted), difficulty switching between tasks, forgetting the reason for doing something (like why you came into a room), and forgetting appointments and events”.3

Is brain fog a symptom of menopause?

Menopause MemoryIn Menopause and Mind Health – Fact Sheet the (Australian) Jean Hailes for Women’s Health (JH) explain:

“About two-thirds of women going through menopause experience brain fog.

Brain fog describes a group of symptoms that happen around the time of menopause, including:

  • Trouble concentrating (e.g. losing your train of thought)
  • Being easily distracted
  • Misplacing things (e.g. keys)
  • Difficulty remembering things (e.g. words)
  • Forgetting why you are doing something (e.g. why you came into a room)
  • Forgetting appointments and events.

These symptoms can impact your quality of life, self-esteem and work. But they are usually quite mild and will improve after menopause.

Symptoms of brain fog are similar to early signs of dementia. It’s uncommon to have dementia in midlife, but if you are worried about these symptoms, talk to your doctor”.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

On page three in their Patient Information Leaflet – Brain Fog and Memory Difficulties In Menopause: What Is Menopausal Brain Fog? the IMS explain:

“These memory complaints may be caused by rising and falling hormones levels, especially estrogen, and by some menopause symptoms, like the hot flushes, sleep disturbances and mood changes. If you have moderate to severe hot flushes, especially at night, you may find your memory is affected”.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

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”.9

On page two in their Patient Information Leaflet – Brain Fog and Memory Difficulties In Menopause: What Role Does Menopausal Hormone Therapy Play In My Brain Health? the IMS explain:

“Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) is the most effective way to treat menopausal symptoms. Treating menopausal symptoms with MHT may improve your brain fog. You may be concerned that if you are using MHT to help alleviate hot flushes you may increase your risk for dementia. However, research has shown us that if you are healthy and start your MHT early in menopause it appears to be safe for cognition. And, if you are using estrogen therapy alone it seems to be safe even in late menopause for cognitive function. MHT may help your memory problems but is not recommended at any age to treat memory difficulties or prevent cognitive decline or dementia. Treatment with estrogen therapy is advised if you have had an early menopause, or your ovaries have been removed causing a surgical menopause. Discuss the risks and benefits with your healthcare practitioner”.10

Protect Your Brain

How can we protect our brain?

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

“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

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

On page three in their Patient Information Leaflet – Brain Fog and Memory Difficulties In Menopause: Twelve Ways To Protect Your Brain the IMS explain:

  • “A healthy heart goes hand in hand with a healthy brain
  • Menopause MemoryGet regular check-ups – obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes are harmful for brain health
  • Watch your weight with a healthy BMI 18-25 and set a goal to your lower blood pressure to 120 mm Hg
  • Cut down on starchy, fatty, sugary foods, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. A nutritious Mediterranean style diet is easy to follow
  • Engage in regular physical activity – increased cardiovascular fitness decreases risk of dementia
  • Break a sweat with a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity weekly
  • A healthy life style includes getting enough sleep, and minimizing stress
  • Stop smoking and drink in moderation
  • Protect your head from injury and try to avoid second-hand tobacco smoke and air pollution
  • Challenge and exercise your brain by learning new skills, reading and volunteering
  • Stay connected – social engagement can boost your brain health
  • Find ways to be part of your local community and share quality time with family and friends”.14

World Menopause Day 2022

What is the theme chosen by the IMS for WMD 2022?

In World Menopause Day: Engagement Toolkit – Theme for 2022 the IMS announce:

“The theme chosen by the IMS for World Menopause Day 2022 is Brain Fog and Memory Difficulties in Menopause”.15

Videos and Podcasts

What are the IMS’s Videos and Podcasts for WMD 2022?

In Videos and Podcasts the IMS include:

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”.16

Health Topics A-Z

Where may I find Health Topics related to Menopause Memory?

In Health Topics A-Z you may find:

Links

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Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

You may find the Sources quoted at:

Sources

  1. World Menopause Day: Patient Information Leaflet – Brain Fog and Memory Difficulties In Menopause: What Is Menopausal Brain Fog? 2022: 1. International Menopause Society https://www.imsociety.org/education/world-menopause-day Accessed: 02 October 2022
  2. Menopause Glossary: C – Cognitive Function. North American Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-glossary#C Accessed: 02 October 2022
  3. World Menopause Day: Patient Information Leaflet – Brain Fog and Memory Difficulties In Menopause: What Is Menopausal Brain Fog? 2022: 1. International Menopause Society https://www.imsociety.org/education/world-menopause-day Accessed: 02 October 2022
  4. Menopause and Mind Health – Fact Sheet. Updated: October 2022. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/resources/menopause-and-mind-health-fact-sheet Accessed: 15 October 2022
  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: 02 October 2022
  6. World Menopause Day: Patient Information Leaflet – Brain Fog and Memory Difficulties in Menopause: What Is Menopausal Brain Fog? 2022: 2. International Menopause Society https://www.imsociety.org/education/world-menopause-day Accessed: 02 October 2022
  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: 02 October 2022
  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: 02 October 2022
  9. 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: 02 October 2022
  10. World Menopause Day: Patient Information Leaflet – Brain Fog and Memory Difficulties In Menopause: What Role Does Menopausal Hormone Therapy Play In My Brain Health? 2022: 2. International Menopause Society https://www.imsociety.org/education/world-menopause-day Accessed: 02 October 2022
  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-dementia-fears-173150 Accessed: 02 October 2022
  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: 02 October 2022
  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: 02 October 2022
  14. World Menopause Day: Patient Information Leaflet – Brain Fog and Memory Difficulties In Menopause: Twelve Ways To protect Your Brain. 2022: 3. International Menopause Society https://www.imsociety.org/education/world-menopause-day Accessed: 02 October 2022
  15. World Menopause Day: Engagement Toolkit – Theme for 2022. 2022: 2. International Menopause Society https://www.imsociety.org/education/world-menopause-day Accessed: 02 October 2022
  16. 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: 02 October 2022
Topic Last Updated: 24 November 2022 – Topic Last Reviewed: 02 October 2022

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