Nurturing mental clarity: Expert tips for tackling menopause brain fog

Do you often need to remember where your phone is, or do you wander into a room not knowing why you are there? In women over 51 (or close to it), this might indicate menopause.

The start of menopause is usually around age 51, but you can have it at any age from 45 to 55 [1]. You may experience menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings and low libido during perimenopause.

Most females will have mild to moderate symptoms, but some will experience severe ones that impact their quality of life. About two-thirds of women suffer from menopausal brain fog [2].

Why do we get brain fog?

Memory and cognition changes are not medical conditions; most people call them “brain fog.” Menopause-related brain fog can be a loss of immediate focus, distractions, misplacing things and time lapses [3].

What causes mood changes and brain fog?

As estrogen levels decline, menopause-related brain fog is primarily caused by hormonal fluctuations. Sleep disturbance, stress and lifestyle changes can also contribute to mental sluggishness in midlife.

Declining estrogen levels around menopause may cause brain fog, but there is a lack of research on whether menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) or other hormonal medications can help [4]. Although menopause-related brain fog can be disconcerting, it’s usually temporary and does not necessarily indicate long-term cognitive decline.

How can you combat brain fog during menopause?

Menopause-related brain fog is temporary. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, an Australian nonprofit committed to enhancing women’s health throughout every phase of life, offers these tips to alleviate it [5]: 

  • Engage in activities that enjoyably challenge your brain to boost your thinking skills.
  • Follow a Mediterranean diet. This diet is rich in antioxidants, which are vital for brain health.
  • Give your days more structure with a diary or a list, which can help you feel less anxious.
  • Regular exercise.
  • Mindfulness and meditation help reduce levels of anxiety and stress.

Consult your doctor if you are concerned about changes in your memory or cognition.

You may feel frustrated by brain fog as you transition through menopause. This challenging phase can be overcome by prioritizing a healthy routine and being patient and self-compassionate with yourself.

[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/menopause
[2] https://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/info-2021/menopause-brain-fog.html
[3] https://www.menopause.org.au/
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8394691/
[5] https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/

Photograph: Prostock-studio/Envato
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