For many women in their 40s and 50s, brain fog is a daily fact of life. As you start to go through menopause, you might notice some common symptoms, including hot flushes, night sweats, weight gain and body shape changes, and of course – the dreaded brain fog.
What is brain fog?
Brain fog is the term commonly used to refer to the feelings of forgetfulness, confusion, and disarming ‘fogginess.’ When women suffer from brain fog they have a hard time remembering things clearly, and can’t focus on tasks or ideas. Brain fog can be exacerbated by the other symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause, such as hot flushes and mood swings.
Many women report that they don’t feel like themselves and can’t concentrate on their daily responsibilities without difficulties. If this sounds familiar, you are likely experiencing this common side effect of menopause.
Brain fog is reportedly worse during perimenopause
According to recent research, more than 60 percent of women in their 40s and 50s reported experiencing brain fog. The problem tends to be at its worse when women are going through peri-menopause, the stage that occurs just before menstruation ends and menopause begins.
Studies show that women who are in the early stages of their menopause tend to experience the negative effects of brain fog the most. Women in their last year of menstruation scored lowest on tests designed to evaluate:
Over time, women’s brain fog tended to improve, and experts think that this may be down to hormonal fluctuations. During the perimenopausal period hormone levels, some of which are responsible for cognition processes, fluctuate up and down. This means that progesterone, oestrogen, follicle stimulating hormone, and luteinising hormone are all over the board. As your hormone levels adjust (usually within 4 years), your brain fog will likely subside.
What can you do about brain fog?
For many women, menopausal brain fog will subside with time. However, if you find that it is impacting your daily life, or is severe enough to cause you to forget about personal hygiene or the names of common objects, you should consult your GP.
They will likely want to assess you for dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other cognitive disorders. Once these conditions have been ruled out, you can consider menopausal hormone therapy (MHT). MHT entails taking low doses of oestrogen or a combo of oestrogen and progastrin. Remember that long term use of these hormones can increase your risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease, so be sure to speak to your GP.
Of course, there are also many lifestyle factors that can help you beat brain fog
Eat a healthy diet, limit your use of alcohol, and get plenty of sleep. Studies show that physical exercise can reduce the effects of brain fog, as can mental exercises that stimulate the mind.
If you are experiencing brain fog, remember that you’re not alone. Speak with your doctor as soon as you notice it effecting your daily life as there are ways to help improve it.