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Team Inspiriko - August 2022

“Menopause Brain” It’s Real: Here is what can help

When you think of menopause, you probably imagine endless nights covered in sweat and unexplained weight gain. But did you know that this period in life can also bring about brain fog? This refers to “cognitive blips” where you can’t seem to remember the name of your neighbour or you find yourself wandering around the kitchen but don’t know the reason why.

This happens because your female hormones, in addition to affecting your body, have an impact on your brain, too! Trouble concentrating, a lack of memory and mild headaches are all natural consequences of both perimenopause and menopause.

 All of these symptoms can deeply affect your quality of life during this inevitable period in your life. But the good thing is that brain fog is not inevitable: you can take certain measures to alleviate this symptom and feel like yourself again. Have a look at the article below and understand how menopause and perimenopause impact your brain — and what to do about it.

What does Brain Fog Feel Like?

As you can imagine, this common menopause symptom feel like fog is clouding your brain and prevents you from remembering small things in your everyday life. One example is always misplacing your keys or not remembering where you put the phone you were just holding in your hand minutes ago. It’s the feeling of trying to do something you always do, but now it’s harder for no apparent reason.

The most common symptoms of brain fog include:
● Problems with short-term memory.
● Inability to focus and concentrate.
● A lack of mental clarity.

Nearly two-thirds of menopausal women suffer from brain fog at some point or another (1). This means that not all women will experience brain fog and, for those who will, it may happen in different degrees of severity. The reason behind it is not yet clear, though researchers suspect it has something to do with waning oestrogen levels.

Causes of Brain Fog 

During perimenopause, your oestrogen levels start to go down and your foggy brain starts to appear. Why? Well, our brain is plagued with oestrogen receptors, so when this hormone’s levels go down, our brains become tired.

The good news is that your brain will adapt to living with lower levels of oestrogen and brain fog will gradually disappear.

How is it linked to Alzheimer’s or Dementia?

Not knowing where you left the keys or forgetting your best friend’s name can trigger an alarm in your brain and make you fear you may be experiencing a disease, like dementia or Alzheimer’s. If you’re worried, the best thing we can advise is to consult with your doctor to discuss your symptoms and get a diagnosis.

But what you have to keep in mind is that brain fog is annoying but does not normally disrupt your daily life. Women with menopause brain fog do not usually stop doing their chores or have big memory lapses. Plus, Alzheimer’s and dementia typically come with other symptoms (2), such as:
● Trouble handling money,
● Inability to make spontaneous decisions,
● Mood swings and personality changes
● Issues solving simple problems.

So, Is There Anything to Do About Brain Fog?

Yes! While brain fog will probably clear up once menopause is over, there are things you can do to alleviate this symptom in the meantime. The key is to use your brain as much as possible and in new ways, if possible! The idea is to increase neuroplasticity. This concept may seem complex but it refers to the ability of your brain to recover from damage (3).

For example, have you ever heard of people who have an accident or stroke and have to learn to speak or walk again? This happens because the area of the brain that is in charge of oral communication has been damaged. However, the brain has an amazing capacity for recovery and, thanks to neuroplasticity, it’s able to re-route the speaking function to another area.

Similarly, you can help your brain become more plastic and reduce the effects of brain fog during menopause. Let’s have a look at some effective strategies below.

Exercise Your Mind With Brain Games

Many games that have been designed specifically to improve cognition (no Candy Crush, sorry!) can be helpful to stimulate your brain and get rid of the fog. Sudoku, crosswords, chess and jigsaws are great examples of games to increase neuroplasticity. Or if you prefer more technological options, you can try out games you can play from your phone. Brain Dots, for example, is a good option to increase concentration and Lumosity is a fun game that will help you train your decision-making skills.

Some of the features brain games should have to be useful include:
● Being challenging,
● Exercising your memory,
● Having increasing difficulty,
● Being fun!

Get Some Exercise

Many times, it seems like regular exercise is the key to all the problems, but in this case, the claim is backed by science. Physical activity is not only great for your body but also for your mind. Whenever you exercise, your brain releases adrenaline, a hormone that enhances physical performance and brain activity (4).

Research has proven that only 3 days of physical activity a week can increase the size of your hippocampus (that is, the part of your brain responsible for memory and learning new things).

So, if you’re ready to get moving and go from cloudy to clear, you should consider doing at least 30 minutes of intense exercise at least 3 times a week. This means going for a run, a brisk walk, biking, or anything else that gets your heart pumping. Even climbing the stairs and dancing count!

Have a Healthy Diet

Having a balanced, healthy diet can also help you lift the brain fog during menopause. For instance, diets with a high intake of cholesterol and fat can impact your heart and brain negatively. Instead, you should try to replace them with healthy fats like the ones contained in olive oil, avocado, and fatty fish.

The perfect diet in this case may be the Mediterranean diet, which is based on fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats. For instance, it includes plenty of salmon and tuna, which are rich in Omega-3 acids. These acids, in turn, are essential for brain development, helping with mood, behaviour, and many brain disorders related to memory and cognition (5).

Stay Social

Isolation can also cause cognitive decline. Not having enough contact with other human beings hurts our memory, decision-making abilities and concentration, among other things (6). So, if you’d like to stay sharp and get rid of brain fog, don’t neglect your loved ones. Do something smart (why not play chess or assemble a jigsaw together?) and you’ll boost your neuroplasticity even more!

Improve The Quality of Your Sleep

Poor sleep quality can also worsen your symptoms, especially during menopause when insomnia becomes so common (almost 61% of women report having problems sleeping at night during this period!). What to do?

● Improve your sleep hygiene. Reduce the amount of blue light you receive right before you go to bed by reducing your screen time. No phones at least an hour before sleeping!
● Set up a regular sleep schedule and stick to it even during weekends.
● Use light clothes to sleep, particularly if you suffer from hot flashes.
● No large meals at night, as they can produce digestive discomfort and prevent you from falling asleep. Plus, spicy foods and alcohol can trigger hot flashes!
● Relax so you can snooze all night long. Yoga, meditation, massages and other relaxation techniques can be of help!

No Alcohol or Smoking

Alcohol and smoking are bad for your health, particularly if you’re experiencing brain fog. Alcohol consumption, on the one hand, prevents new memories from forming and affects the hippocampus (7) region of your brain (remember, the part that’s responsible for learning and memorising). Similarly, nicotine can affect the way brain circuits are created, clouding your ability to pay attention and learn new things (8).

If you’d like to recover your mental sharpness, then quitting alcohol and smoking is imperative.

Practice Meditation & Mindfulness

One of the most annoying effects of brain fog is the lack of focus and attention that can affect your life. To prevent this, why not try meditation and mindfulness to learn how to stay in the moment? These techniques will teach you how to observe fluctuations in your thoughts and to take a step back before negative feelings, stress or anxiety start taking over your brain. In this way, you’ll learn to refocus your thoughts and fight brain fog as a result.

Try Natural Supplements

Many times, natural herbs and supplements can alleviate symptoms and help you focus. These are only some examples:
Bacopa Monnieri, which can enhance and improve memory (9) while protecting your brain,
Ashwagandha can help you relieve stress and ease mental fatigue (10);
Red Clover contains high levels of isoflavones, oestrogen-like chemicals that can help with menopause symptoms like brain fog (11);
Black Maca also promotes brain function and eases brain fog and depression (12);
Vitamin B12 and B6. Deficiencies in these vitamins can produce confusion, memory problems, and depression (13), so watch out for your vitamin levels to improve your diet and/or take supplements if needed.
Magnesium. Not having enough magnesium can also impact your brain activity negatively, making it harder to concentrate and even increasing your susceptibility to stress (14).

When to Consult With a Doctor

Suffering from brain fog during menopause, unfortunately, is very common. Forgetting small things like where you’ve put your keys or your phone will happen to most menopausal women. But if these memory deficiencies start affecting your everyday life, maybe it’s time to consult with your doctor and see whether you have a vitamin deficiency, for example, that might be causing your brain fog.

And if you’re worried about your symptoms, you should see your doctor, too, no matter how common these symptoms may be!

Final Takeaway

Brain fog during menopause is real: it’s not all in your head. As your hormone levels decline with age, brain function and memory can falter, especially when your body is still adapting to lower amounts of oestrogen. The good news is that most women see brain fog fade away after menopause. And if you don’t want to wait long years before feeling like yourself, the lifestyle changes mentioned above will certainly go a long way to lift the fog and feel cognitively sharp once more!


Learn where you are in your menopause / perimenopause journey with the help of a personalised report.



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