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Brain fog and memory loss

Menopause symptoms and treatments.

Brain fog and memory loss

This is often one of the more unsettling symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. The term brain fog refers to a collection of cognitive symptoms such as impairments in concentration, clarity of thought, speed of thinking, memory, word-finding abilities, distractibility, forgetting intentions, and generally sluggish and fuzzy thinking.

Anyone can get brain fog and it can be caused by a lack of sleep, stress, a poor diet, as a side effect of medication or as a symptom of a health problem. Brain fog often coincides with hormone changes and occurs in pregnancy (commonly called ‘baby brain’) as well as in perimenopause and menopause.

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Hormones and the brain

The brain is full of receptors for oestrogen, and this hormone stimulates the neurons to work well and has anti-inflammatory effects in the brain. Testosterone – another hormone that drops in menopause – helps to strengthen the nerves in the brain and the arteries that supply blood flow. Having a good supply and flow of blood to the brain is vital to protect against dementia.

Impact of brain fog

Brain fog can be debilitating and contribute to a drop in confidence, especially at work. It often affects the mental load women carry relating to professional, domestic and caring responsibilities and can lead women to feel overwhelmed, stressed and exasperated. When tasks are forgotten or neglected because of brain fog and overwhelm, this may lead to additional feelings of guilt and shame.

In severe cases of brain fog and memory loss, it can lead women to worry that they may have dementia or another neurological condition.

Ways to help brain fog

  • Regular aerobic exercise (doesn’t have to be intense, a brisk walk is good)
  • Stop smoking
  • Check your blood pressure is in a healthy range
  • A healthy diet containing plenty of fruit, vegetables, protein and healthy fats
  • Good sleep routine
  • Use memory aids to support your mental load (post-it notes, to-do lists, alerts on your phone, organisation apps etc.) 
  • Keep up connections with friends and loved ones
  • Do things you enjoy and that help you relax
  • Try HRT for your perimenopause or menopause symptoms, to top up your missing hormones and reduce the feelings of brain fog.