4 menopause brain worries & how to improve brain function

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Menopause Advisor
Ask Eileen

01 February 2021

Today's topic

Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I take a look at four menopause brain worries that you may have.

I get so many women contacting me, worried because they think they're going mad or they're losing their mind. They find that they're forgetting things, they're losing concentration, they're getting brain fog, and they're getting very worried that this is something really serious.

Brain issues in menopause are one of the more common symptoms and most women will experience this, to some degree, at some point through menopause.

What happens to the brain during menopause?

Oestrogen plays an integral part in our brain function. It's needed for internal signalling and it's also needed to help get blood flow to the parts of the brain that we're using at any given time. The problem is that in menopause, our oestrogen levels can fluctuate, so some days our bodies can produce too much, and other days, our bodies are not producing enough. And, this fluctuation of oestrogen can interfere with our brain function.

A lot of women tell me that one day, they can feel great. They're sharp. They're on the ball. And the next day, it feels like they're just treading water and they can't get their brain to function at all.

Brain worries you might experience during menopause

So, let's take a look at some of the common brain worries which women often ask me about:

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1. Does menopause cause memory issues?

Memory issues are one of the main symptoms a woman can often experience, such as forgetting what you were doing, forgetting to do things, forgetting work protocols. It can be even really simple things.

You could get up in the morning and think, "Right. I need to do such and such. I need to get this for shopping." And an hour later, you've completely forgotten what you were thinking about.

It can also be about recalling information slowly. Maybe you could think of things quickly, and now, you have to think about what you're thinking about to get the information that you need. You can also end up experiencing a lot of brain fog or everything just seems very, very slow.

2. Can menopause cause mental confusion?

Mental confusion is another common problem. You can have difficulty thinking about lots of things. You might find that you can't concentrate at all. You may also find that you used to learn new things very, very quickly, but now, you find that you are struggling to recall new information or things that you've been reading recently.

3. Can menopause make you forget words?

Forgetting words and names was a big one for me. I'm not the best person to remember names anyway. But, oh my goodness, give me people in the streets, people that I deal with, people that I train with occasionally, and I'd be thinking, "I can't remember your name."

And this can be really embarrassing, apart from anything else, just to maybe meet someone in the street and then you can't actually say, "Hello, so-and-so." The name's on the tip of your tongue but you just can't bring it to the fore.

4. Can menopause make you feel like you are losing your mind?

Yes, it can also be a feeling of losing your mind. And this is a really worrying one. A lot of women find that as well as the total confusion, they can also get mood swings and even personality changes. They just don't feel they're the same person as they were. And a lot of them say, "I feel as if I'm going mad. I feel as if I'm losing my mind."

Now, this, it's really, really important. You are not going mad. This is a real physical change that's going on in your body so it's not all in your mind. And I know some women get really upset because they get told off at work for forgetting things. They get made to feel very embarrassed or very foolish, and they do think it's all in the mind. But it's not. This is a real thing that is happening here.

How to improve brain function during menopause

So how can you deal with this? How can you support yourself and improve your brain function as you go through menopause?

The first thing to realise is this, for most women tends to be a phase. So, it's something that comes and goes. It's not something that's going to last right away through the menopause for the majority of women.

I know, for me, it was something that came and went. Then maybe six months later, it all started all over again. But for most women, the good news is that this is something that eases off the further through the menopause that you go.

There are a few self-care tips that can help you:

Get a good night’s sleep

This is vital to help with brain function and focus the next day. But we know that for an awful lot of women, a good night's sleep is very elusive. I've done several blogs on how to get a better night's sleep so if you need reminding, then please have a look at these:

Struggling to get to sleep? Tips & tricks to help
3 sleep problems during menopause
How to sleep better during menopause

You need to eat well

Your brain uses up an awful lot of energy and nutrients so make sure that you're eating well. Also, make sure that you eat regularly, and that you're drinking plenty of water because low blood sugars and dehydration will interfere with your brain function very, very quickly.

And I know, for me, if I get dehydrated, if I don't eat enough, then that's the first thing that goes for me.

Make sure you exercise regularly

This not only helps your health and menopause generally but when you exercise, you're breathing better and that's oxygenating your brain. For me, I tend to get afternoon slumps about 2 or 3 o'clock. This is when I find my brain just seems to wind down. But one of the things I found helps me is to get outside in the fresh air, just to have a brisk walk for about half an hour.

Even 10 or 15 minutes would be enough to help you just to get your circulation going, get more blood to the brain, get more oxygen to the brain, and that can give you a second wind during the day.

Talk about how you are feeling

If you are having problems at work, with focus, concentration, and remembering facts and figures, or customers or other people that you deal with, then it's important to let your line manager or your HR know that you're just struggling a little bit. Could you get a little bit of extra support? Maybe change your working day or have a slightly longer lunchtime so that you can get out and have that walk before facing what you've got to do in the afternoon?

If you're at home, tell your family. It's amazing how many people contacted me because they're worried about their mum or their partner because she seems to be 'on another planet' or she just doesn't seem with it half the time. And very often, they're just worried about what's going on. So, if you can explain that this is something that happens in menopause and that it's a phase, and things will get better, then they can give you support rather than worry.

Little reminders

One of the things I found really helpful, for me, was Post-it Notes because I was just so bad at forgetting things that I needed to do, such as shopping lists. So, if ever I needed to remember everything, I would just stick a Post-it Note, sometimes, even at the front door to remind me not to go out of the house without what I needed.

The other thing, for me, was to have a couple of diaries, so I would have a diary at work, a diary at home, a diary in my handbag. The only problem was remembering to keep all of them up to date at the same time, which sometimes was quite a difficult thing to do.

So, there are lots of little hacks that can help you to deal with these memory issues as you go through menopause, just to make life a bit easier and also to stop worrying because if you worry, that's going to make symptoms worse as well.

Helpful supplements and herbs

There are some supplements and herbs that can help with focus and concentration. A fish oil supplement is great for brain function. If you're vegetarian or vegan, you could look at flaxseed oil supplements. You could go with the herb called Ginkgo biloba, which is great for memory and concentration.

There's also our lovely flower essence remedy, Concentration Essence.

My Top Tip:

If there are days when you really need to be sharp and have a good memory, then you can carry Concentration Essence with you and just put a few drops on your tongue when you need that little bit of an extra boost.

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So, I hope you found this one helpful. If any of you out there have any stories, have any tips on how you manage to help yourself overcome these symptoms, then please share them because we would all love to hear all about them.

Key points to take away from this blog:

  • You're not losing your mind! Forgetting things, mental confusion and difficulty concentrating are all common during menopause
  • Remember, for most women, this is a phase! It's something that may come and go but, usually, ends by the end of the menopause
  • Support your brain by sleeping and eating well, exercising regularly, staying hydrated
  • Try helpful herbs and supplements to give your brain an extra boost such as Ginkgo biloba, a fish oil or flaxseed oil supplement and Concentration flower essence.

Until next week, take care.

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