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Memory loss and lack of focus due to the perimenopause

1 min read
Cycle Care

Approved by

Ingeborg van Dijk - trainee gynecologist
You’re busy with work, your teenage kids and your parents (in-law) could use some help. There’s no time to waste. You have a list of things to do every single day. Lately, you’ve started to notice that some things are starting to slip through the cracks.

From names to numbers, what that thing was you just said you’d do; you honestly just don’t remember it anymore. You can’t seem to focus anymore and continuously forget when someone's birthday is. All in all, you have a mind like a sieve. Slowly, you start to wonder whether or not you have early onset dementia or Alzheimer's disease. 

Fortunately, the chances of you suffering from this are very small. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are very rare in middle-aged women. You are much more likely to suffer from brain fog that is a result of the hormonal roller coaster we call perimenopause. 

What is brain fog?

Brain fog is a symptom that occurs regularly in people in the perimenopause and around menopause. Research shows that approximately 60% of women in the perimenopause suffer from this. It’s best described as having a “head full of cotton wool”. You may suffer from memory loss, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, difficulty doing multiple tasks at once, difficulty remembering things etc. You often feel like you can no longer think clearly.  

So, it is really true that your memory may fail you more during this period and you may be less concentrated. Most people suffer from this in the year they reach menopause. The big culprit seems to be the drop in the hormone estrogen, but also having hot flashes (especially at night), sleep disturbances, and mood swings. So, if you suffer from this a lot, chances are your memory may not be what it used to be either. But oh well...

The menopause as emotional rollercoaster

Read more

How do you treat brain fog?

Fortunately, we have some good news too. Your mind and memory will most likely improve once you’ve reached menopause. Hormone therapy (also called MHT (menopausal hormone therapy) or HRT (hormone replacement therapy)) is often an effective way to treat symptoms of menopause. It can also help lessen the effects of brain fog. So, if you suffer from this a lot then we do advise you to go see your GP or a doctor who can advise you about this. 

Small-scale research shows that brain fog is less severe in women who train their brains regularly and have a healthy lifestyle. Do you want to do more to support your brain? You can do this by living a healthy lifestyle and training your brain. A couple of practical tips:

  • Eat healthy (lots of fruits and veggies!)

  • Sleep well

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Exercise regularly (moderately intense exercise for 150 minutes a week in addition to several muscle strength exercises a week) 

  • Try to control and minimize stress. Think about meditation or yoga, for example

  • Do fun, new activities every once in a while to gain new experiences

  • Seek regular social contact

  • Stop smoking, limit your alcohol intake and avoid artificial sweeteners.

  • Train your brain with crossword puzzles or other mind games

  • Keep a close eye on what medications you are taking and whether they aggravate symptoms

  • But most importantly, try to just have fun!

Sources: Dutch Menopause Society, How To Keep Your Brain Young: Preserve memory, reduce dementia risk, harness neuroplasticity and restore function, Prof. Kerryn Phelps, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3620712/.


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