“Brain Fog” in Menopausal Women. It is scary But Reversible.
In my last video, I spoke about what is brain fog, and what are some of the main conditions are associated with brain Fog. We spoke about Post COVID brain fog and the latest research by 2 yale neuroscientists on the use of Guanfacine and n acetylcysteine on Brain fog on Long hal COVID patients.
Today let’s talk about how Brain fog in menopausal women. And if you are a woman going through menopause, then you probably know what I am talking about.
Menopause is a very challenging time for many women. In some of us women who may be blessed with some good genes, this time may pass very smoothly, but for many of us menopause brings itself a variety of both physical and emotional symptoms. Some of which can take a huge toll on our physical and mental well-being. Physical symptoms such as tiredness, night sweats, insomnia, hot ﬂashes, vaginal dryness, pain during sexual activity, are bothersome in themselves but menopause can take a huge emotional toll on a women’s well-being as well. And that can be an emotional toll is huge especially if you are a working woman, if your life is already stressful, or if you are going through diﬃcult relationships or ﬁnancial stress.
Some of these emotional symptoms During menopause, are mood changes such as irritability, sadness, lack of motivation, aggressiveness, problems focusing,fatigue,, diﬃculty concentrating, and depression and anxiety is pretty common too. Some women who are struggling with already existing depression, bipolar depression or schizophrenia, can at times experience worsening of symptoms of even a relapse of their illness.
And many women due to these cognitive changes feel as if they are they may be having dementia”, You can’t concentrate. Multitasking is almost impossible. Well, it wasn’t good for your mental health to begin with.
A study was published this past June in the journal Scientific Reports by Dr. Lisa Masconi. In that study, they scanned the brains of 161 women between the ages of 40 and 65 who were in various stages of perimenopausal and post-menopausal transition. The scans showed a decrease of both gray and white matter, increases in deposits of the Alzheimer’s-associated protein amyloid beta, and a decrease in glucose, in the brains of these women. Thus explaining all these cognitive, and memory changes that women in menopause were showing.
What causes these changes in our body as we hit that period of menopause? Well as many of you must be knowing that the hormone estrogen that a woman’s ovaries generate throughout her reproductive years. is not only essential in maintaining fertility and reproductive health But is very crucial to maintaining vigor, and normal emotional and physical growth of a woman . Dr. Mosconi, through her research, found that estrogen is believed to push neurons to burn glucose to make energy”; thus keeping the brain younger and healthier.
As estrogen declines with age, our neurons start slowing down and age faster. This explains the cognitive changes, like trouble focusing, concentrating, increased forgetfulness, and even depression, anxiety, and all other menopause-related symptoms including hot flashes, and insomnia. Women describe difficulties remembering people’s names or finding the right word in a conversation.. Research suggests menopause symptoms can adversely affect work productivity and work satisfaction.
Because similar symptoms may present during menopause and the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease (forgetfulness and word-finding difficulties) perimenopausal women can become very concerned about dementia.
Women should be reassured that dementia that begins before age 65 – called young onset dementia – is not common (unless there is a family history of early-onset dementia). Forgetfulness and other cognitive difficulties during the menopausal transition are common and a normal part of menopause.
What will happen if women do not address these symptoms, and do not seek active treatment? Fortunately, even without addressing these symptoms, or not seeking any treatment per se, the studies show that The ﬁrst year of menopause brain is the worst, but memory and learning ability generally rebound to normal after the menopause process is complete. For some that can take as less as one or two years but for a good percentage it could take up years, and some studies show that it may take 10 years to clear that brain fog.
So what can women do to help eliminate some of these symptoms related to menopause?
Although there are some studies that have shown some benefits of Hormone replacement therapy, for brain fog, and helping the woman to regain her vigor, most of them have failed to show that HRT or hormone replacement therapy can reverse these changes, however, there are still studies ongoing in peri to post-menopausal women.
Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) or hormone therapy (HT) can, in alleviating many physical symptoms of menopause like fatigue, mood swings, and hot flashes, vaginal dryness etc.
HT or MHT are used to replenish estrogen levels in the body, which helps to ease the symptoms of menopause and improve your quality of life. There are two types of hormone therapy: systemic (for the whole body) hormone therapy and low-dose vaginal products.
HT can be estrogen alone (for women who have had a hysterectomy) or combined estrogen-progesterone (for women with a uterus).
Your doctor will determine whether or not you are a candidate for HRT and whether the benefits of using HRT are more than the risks not all women can tolerate them. Some of the most serious side effects of HRT are ones are Blood clots, High blood pressure, and risks of stroke.
Then there are some herbal and other plant-based treatments supplements, and mind-body therapies called complimentary alternative medicines that can be sued, but again some can interfere with the action of other medicines.
Some of them may may have serious side effects, even when they are labeled “natural.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dietary supplements. Therefore, they might contain more or less of the active ingredients than are listed on the label. Talk with your health care provider before you try CAM treatments or if you already use CAM.
Soem providers use non hormone medications like Gabapentin, SSRI, and Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators ( meaning drugs that act like estrogens on some tissues like tamoxifen and raloxifene). But again all this has to be done in consultation with your provider.
Until the medical community finds some safe and effective options when it comes to using medications, there are several natural ways of slowly overcoming these cognitive-related symptoms of brain fog associated with menopause, which are not much different form managing brain fog from other conditions.
Healthy diet. Avoiding junk food, high sugary drinks, red meat, and simple carbs. Resorting to a diet rich in protein, and complex carbs, choosing a Mediterranean diet, with a lot of fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and fish, can be extremely beneficial in retaining cognitive alertness, and decreasing the intensity of the brain fog.
Hydration. Drinking 8 to 9 glasses of water daily.
Exercise: At least 30 min daily exercise for at least 5 times a week
Supplements like vitamin, B complex, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acids, and a supplement that you can find in your local grocery store by name of NAC ( N acetylcysteine) has been found to be quite effective for maintaining a healthy brain function. There are also some reports of the benefits of Ginkgo biloba in improving memory. But do check with your provider or doctor before starting these supplements.
Reduce your stress level by joining a local gym, or a yoga class, spending more time in nature, journaling, talking to a therapist, incorporating a 10-minute meditation in your daily routine, beingmindful of your day-to-day activities, showing gratitude for little things that you have been blessed with.
Establish healthy social connections. Talking to a caring, family or friend, who listens in a nonjudgemental way is a great way to improve your level of alertness, decrease dep[resison, focus, and stay relaxed.
Develop hobbies, like puzzles, gardening, taking up a new sport, or playing a new instrument. Can also be quite helpful.
Ensure proper control of blood pressure, by maintaining a low-salt diet, and taking your medications on time if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. and check your cholesterol frequently and ensure it is within range.
Mostly and most importantly ensure you get a good night’s sleep, by maintaining proper sleep hygiene, limiting your screen use, listen to a meditation tape at bedtime.
A study done in May of 2021 at the University of Pennsylvania indicates that medications used for ADHD can help women regain some of their mental faculties associated with this menopausal-related brain fog. In this study, theyused a drug called lisdexamfetamine (LDX) or also known as Vyvanse. The study showed at least 40 percent improvement in symptoms of cognitive decline in menopausal women as opposed to just 17 percent in those who were given a placebo.
So that is something you may want to discuss with your providers, but again these medications are not free of side effects a. It all depends on the severity of your symptoms and the risk versus benefit ratio.
In the meantime, we can also count on those safe natural and proven ways that we spoke about of boosting our body’s inner ability to recover and rejuvenate after something as huge as menopause.
I have attracted a link to the articles that were used to obtain references from, and some more for you to read.
Also, there is a link to a website of the North American Menopause society. There is a lot of helpful information about menopause, a series of videos with very helpful information, a list of Local practitioners in your area who can help you with menopause-related symptoms, and also a lot of very helpful books on menopause.
https://www.naturesbest.co.uk/pharmacy/the-menopause/what-caus es-menopause-brain-fog-6-tricks-to-overcome-it/#:~:text=What%20is% 20menopausal%20brain%20fog,to%20remember%20your%20neighbo ur’s%20name.
https://theconversation.com/brain-fog-during-menopause-is-real-it-can-disrupt- womens-work-and-spark-dementia-fears-173150#:~:text=The%20symptoms%20 of%20menopause%2C%20which,for%20up%20to%20ten%20years.