Menopause brain fog: symptoms and solutions

Let’s talk about menopause brain fog. It’s real, but you don’t have to suffer alone.

If you are journeying through menopause and you find yourself experiencing memory loss or having trouble focusing, you aren’t alone. Two out of three women say that they regularly experience brain fog and forgetfulness in the years leading up to “the change,” and it’s yet another way that this major milestone in life can feel so intimidating and overwhelming.

But don’t let menopause brain fog overwhelm you. With the right understanding of the link between the menopause and brain fog, you can take away some of the uncertainty surrounding these sometimes alarming symptoms. You can also arm yourself with the knowledge you need to better manage menopause brain fog, boost your brain health, and take back a sense of control over your own mind and body.

What does menopause brain fog feel like?

Women are more vulnerable to poor mental health, feeling alone and overwhelmed during menopause, reports the North American Menopause Society . This is often because this transitory phase of life can feel very lonely, and many women might be embarrassed to talk about brain fog, memory loss, and other menopause symptoms.

Teri Hines, a school principal who started going through menopause in her mid-40s, told NPR that her experience felt "isolated and unmoored."

"It was such a fog over who I was, what I wanted, where I was going, what I was capable of accomplishing," said Hines. "I just could not find my footing."

We need to talk about menopause

TV presenter Davina McCall decided to face this problem head-on with her new Channel 4 documentary entitled Sex Myths and the Menopause . McCall’s goal was to take away a lot of the stigma, isolation, and shame surrounding menopause, with The Telegraph 's critics calling it an "excellent documentary" that has "lifted the lid on the appalling way menopausal women have been treated by society."

The truth is that as women, we will all embark on this journey sooner or later. When you do, you will join the ranks of millions of others who have gone through menopause, and learned to accept the ways their bodies and minds change.

But what if we did more than simply accept it? What if we learned to talk about it, share our own stories, be candid about our symptoms, fears, and concerns?

This openness about menopause can then create space for us to seek the right guidance, knowledge and support to help us to feel our best throughout the years-long journey through menopause.

One prominent example is menopause brain fog.

Does menopause cause brain fog?

Cognitive changes, like brain fog, are one of the most widely reported symptoms of menopause . Women often use terms like "forgetfulness" or "concentration difficulties" to describe it, according to a study published in the .

Is brain fog a symptom of menopause?

Brain fog and declines in memory during menopause have been reported across the board in middle-aged women , even if you take into account factors like health and lifestyle.

Specific symptoms often include:

  • Increased difficulty with motor function

  • A harder time with verbal learning

  • Trouble focusing or paying attention

  • Hazy or foggy memory.

Often, these specific cognitive symptoms also come with other mental health-related concerns, such as:

  • Unbalanced mood, including increased irritability

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Poor mental health.

When does menopause brain fog start to happen?

An older  white-haired woman wearing a blue button-up smiling and hugging an older  smiling woman wearing a black t-shirt.

The average age for British women to reach menopause is 51, notes the NHS . However, brain fog actually starts to occur during perimenopause , which is the eight to 10 years leading up to menopause. Most women in the UK may start to experience brain fog and mood changes in their early 40s.

How long does menopause brain fog last?

The symptoms of menopause can last for anywhere up to ten years and vary from person to person. On average, the menopause will last around four years . During this time, experiencing brain fog is a common symptom.

What causes brain fog in menopause?

The most commonly accepted theory is that it all boils down to estrogen. This hormone plays a critical role in a woman’s brain development and brain health, and it’s been shown to have neuroprotective benefits against brain cell damage and even DNA damage.

When you’re in perimenopause, your estrogen fluctuates wildly and will eventually drop to very low levels during actual menopause. This leads many researchers to conclude that changes in your hormones are to blame for menopause brain fog.

Life changes

Yet that doesn’t paint a complete picture. For example, one study found that hormone replacement theory didn't improve cognition symptoms in post-menopausal women.

During your 40s and 50s, it's not just your brain and body that's changing. It's also your life. You're often juggling more on your proverbial plate, including your career, your children taking exams, going through puberty, leaving home or starting families of their own, care for your own elderly parents, etc. This increased mental burden may contribute to menopause brain fog.

How to manage menopause and brain fog

Take heart. Just because nearly all women of a certain age have bouts of brain fog, you aren’t powerless. In a stage of life when you might feel out of control, take back your power with strategic changes to your diet, menopause brain fog supplements, and daily habits to boost your cognition, clear away the brain fog, and restore your mental clarity.

1. Run from the problem (literally)

Regular physical activity, especially cardiovascular exercise , has been shown to support, improve and manage all symptoms of menopause . This includes better mood, improved memory, and less brain fog.

The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that women who are perimenopausal, menopausal or post-menopausal aim for at least 30 minutes of cardio at least five days a week.

2. Get more sleep

Many women complain that they have trouble sleeping during menopause. Sleep is critical for your brain health , and lack of quality sleep may be a core factor in your brain fog.

Strive for at least seven hours of sleep a night, and improve your sleep quality by:

  • Following a regular sleep schedule

  • Keeping your bedroom cool and dark

  • Talking to your doctor about any menopause symptoms that may be keeping you up at night, such as hot flashes

  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol

3. Hang out with your friends

Researchers say that social connection may help to slow ageing and prevent memory problems and brain fog as you get older.

Invest in your friendships, your relationships, and your sense of community. Stay plugged into your interests, passions, hobbies, and the people around you.

4. Take the right supplements

As your body transitions through menopause, your traditional women’s supplements may no longer cut it. For example, you’ll need far less iron than you did when you were younger .

Invest in a high-quality, premium supplement instead.

The above suggestions won’t stop menopause. However, these changes to your diet and your lifestyle can help you to improve your brain health and manage menopause brain fog. Read more tips for improving brain health on our blog .

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Laura Sugden

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