Menopause and Memory problems

I have learned over the last few years in my practice that menopause is a serious issue that many women struggle with. Our society does not give menopausal women adequate attention, compassion, or support, and therefore it negatively impacts their mental health.  

The menopausal transition which can begin as early as the 30's and last into as late as the 60's.The word "menopause" comes Greek for month and cessation.

In our society, of course, older women are stigmatized, and youth and beauty are worshipped. We have internalized this, and so we suffer when we enter this transition phase emotionally. Additionally, many women will suffer painful mental and physical symptoms. These symptoms include hot flashes, painful vaginal dryness, decreased sex drive, depression, irritability, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and brain fog or memory loss. While these changes would be easier to bear if we were educated and supported, this is often not the case. When we experience these symptoms, we often don't understand them. Shame around them causes us to keep quiet about them. We are often met with ignorance by medical professionals who lack the essential knowledge to ease our anxiety about what we experience during this transition.

One thing that you may experience while going through menopause is a struggle with your memory and thinking. About 60 percent of women have this issue. I know this is a scary thing. 

Although numerous studies have documented that memory issues are associated with menopause, no one prepared me for this and went through it personally. I notice this happens to my clients as well.  


Studies show that the process of menopause can impair your working memory, short-term memory, vocabulary, clarity of thought, and ability to multitask ( although that's a good thing) . 


You might notice difficulty in tasks that involve math, such as calculating a tip or doing taxes. Things that involve quick thinking or making changes like changing your schedule or flight. You may have trouble keeping and focusing your attention on challenging tasks. These may include things such as reading, long drives, or tasks at work you find boring. You may begin to lose things and have trouble meeting your goals where this was not an issue in the past.


You may have trouble thinking or what we call brain fog.

You may feel like you are going crazy, and you may suffer at work and home because of this.

 

According to Jen Gunther, author of "The Menopause Manifesto", trouble with menopause and memory can be thought of as loading a new program onto a computer. Things run a little slower during the upload, and as you get used to the new program, there may be some problems adjusting, but things soon run better.


The memory changes and brain fog attributable to menopause ARE temporary.


What can you do about memory and menopause?


Hormones


Although there are concerns about the risks of cancer rising, doctors disagree on these risks. I am not a medical professional, so it's essential to ask your doctor whether this might be right for you.



Healthy changes


Exercise changes, a decrease in alcohol consumption, healthier diet changes, and therapy for stress.

It's temporary

Remember, it's temporary. Many women feel scared and alarmed that they may have Alzheimer's when they experience these difficulties. That isn't usually the case. 


Get help for other issues

Depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance also contribute to brain fog. Are you experiencing trouble with this issue? There is help available—Check-in with a therapist who specializes in menopause.


Get screened for physical conditions that might be causing brain fog or memory problems

In her book "The Menopause Manifesto", Jen Gunther suggests looking at diabetes, sleep apnea, and thyroid disease as these issues can also cause brain fog concentration and memory problems.


Cognitive changes dissipate over time when hormone levels adjust for those women who struggle.


Our society is not compassionate towards women going through menopause. In countries other than the US, workplaces advocate for special recognition as menopause-friendly. Workplaces are also being held accountable for menopause discrimination!

Practice Self-compassion 


Please be kind to yourself. Practice self-compassion, and understand this is temporary.

Learn about that here


Educate your loved ones 


Women still do most of the heavy lifting at home AND carry a lot of the household duties, many of which require keeping track of everyone else's responsibilities and schedule. Additionally, when going through menopause, many of us have increased life stress. Provide your children, spouse, and parents with literature on this transition that is accurate and up to date, and begin to draw appropriate boundaries around the work that you have assumed. Ask them to take into consideration what you are experiencing. 

Women are born with  a finite number of eggs. As we get older, they decrease. This impacts the levels of estrogen and progesterone and our brain's behavior.

What can you do about memory and menopause problems?



Hormones


Although there are concerns about the risks of cancer rising, doctors disagree on these risks. I am not a medical professional, so it's essential to ask your doctor whether this might be right for you.



Healthy changes


Exercise changes, a decrease in alcohol consumption, healthier diet changes, and therapy for stress.

It's temporary

Remember, it's temporary. Many women feel scared and alarmed that they may have Alzheimer's when they experience these difficulties. That isn't usually the case. 


Get help for other issues

Depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance also contribute to brain fog. Are you experiencing trouble with this issue? There is help available—Check-in with a therapist who specializes in menopause.


Get screened for physical conditions that might be causing brain fog or memory problems

In her book "The Menopause Manifesto", Jen Gunther suggests looking at diabetes, sleep apnea, and thyroid disease as these issues can also cause brain fog concentration and memory problems.


Cognitive changes dissipate over time when hormone levels adjust for those women who struggle.


Our society is not compassionate towards women going through menopause. In countries other than the US, workplaces advocate for special recognition as menopause-friendly. Workplaces are also being held accountable for menopause discrimination!

Practice Self-compassion 


Please be kind to yourself. Practice self-compassion, and understand this is temporary.

Learn about that here


Educate your loved ones 


Women still do most of the heavy lifting at home AND carry a lot of the household duties, many of which require keeping track of everyone else's responsibilities and schedule. Additionally, when going through menopause, many of us have increased life stress. Provide your children, spouse, and parents with literature on this transition that is accurate and up to date, and begin to draw appropriate boundaries around the work that you have assumed. Ask them to take into consideration what you are experiencing. 

Learn more about menopause

learn about anxiety and depression in menopause

learn about definitions related to menopause

depression treatment in menopause


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Medical information obtained from this website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.