Complete Symptom Guide to Menopause and Brain Fog | Stella

Menopause and brain fog

 

Is there anything more discombobulating than menopause and brain fog, when your brain feels more like mush rather than the sharp and useful tool you’ve been used to? You are not the only one in menopause forgetting words, or why you’ve come into a room or lost focus during a particularly tough task at work.

Menopause and mental confusion is very real and it is surprisingly more common than you’d think in the earlier stages of menopause.

BRAIN FOG DEFINITION

Brain fog is the popular name for many cognitive symptoms during menopause, including forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, inability to think clearly or problem solve, and confusion.

It’s sometimes also described as mental fatigue. It can interfere with work and your daily life depending on its severity. It can feel devastating but it’s not necessarily a permanent fixture in your life and typically gets better as you progress through menopause.

If you are spending your days frustrated about your menopause symptoms… download Stella.

HOW LIKELY IS BRAIN FOG?

  • Brain fog tends to happen most during perimenopause and within the first year after your periods stop
  • Other research has shown that women within 12 months of menopause scored the lowest on memory, attention, verbal learning and motor function tests compared to those in late reproductive and late menopausal transition stages
  • Some research has found that other menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes and sleep problems can affect cognitive function

Read more about the stages of menopause.

SIGNS OF BRAIN FOG

Memory issues

Lack of mental clarity

Poor concentration

Inability to focus

Read more about anxiety and sleep issues in our symptoms library.

HOW CAN YOU EASE BRAIN FOG SYMPTOMS?

1. Regular exercise – aim for 75 minutes of intensive or 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week

2. Healthy diet (especially a Mediterranean diet)

3. Learning something new – an instrument, a language, puzzles, crosswords or reading, can help boost brain health

4. Good quality sleep set regular bed and wake times

5. Reduce stress – try mindfulness or yoga


WOULD HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY (HRT) HELP?

HRT is known to improve sleep, mood and hot flushes during menopause.

While HRT is highly effective for many symptoms of menopause, current research about its effect on brain fog and other cognitive symptoms is mixed and seems to show little benefit. HRT is therefore currently not started as a treatment for brain fog alone, but you may find it useful if you are struggling with other symptoms, especially if these are impacting on your concentration.

HRT isn’t suitable for everyone, read more about the HRT debate.

BRAIN FOG AND MENOPAUSE

Declining levels of oestrogen and progesterone are also responsible for cognition. Their fluctuations during perimenopause are partly responsible for brain fog symptoms.

Also, stress, tiredness (from poor sleep which is also a problem during the menopause journey), poor diet and lack of exercise can affect your cognition.

Many report that they can forget words mid-flow when speaking, or forget important things, such as a colleague’s name or appointments.

It is not clear why this happens but it is research shows a possible link between oestrogen levels and the role they play in your neurotransmitter systems that aid memory and processing.

Research shows that brain fog often improves postmenopause.

Lifestyle change is key to keep your brain healthy, so eat well, get good sleep, exercise and manage stress.

Exercise your brain and memory with crossword puzzles (Wordle is a great start!), quizzes, socialise or take up a new hobby.

Memory issues and brain fog during menopause are common, especially if you’re forgetting where you’ve put your mobile phone or glasses!

It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor if your brain fog starts to negatively affect your daily life or you are worried about your symptoms.

Focusing on my diet and foods that help the brain has helped me a great deal.”

Lisa

DISCOVER MORE

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  • Gen M: Brain fog symptoms
  • Healthline: Brain fog
  • Healthline: Menopause brain fog
  • Thurston, Rebecca C. PhD Cognition and the menopausal transition: is perception reality?, Menopause: December 2013 – Volume 20 – Issue 12 – p 1231-1232 doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000137
  • Weber MT, Rubin LH, Maki PM. Cognition in perimenopause: the effect of transition stage. Menopause. 2013;20(5):511-517. doi:10.1097/gme.0b013e31827655e5