Do you keep losing your cell phone? Forgetting acquaintances’ names?
Memory issues and difficulty concentrating—also referred to as “brain fog”—are common complaints among women in the months or years leading up to and during menopause.
Add mood swings and anxiety, and it’s no wonder you might feel overwhelmed by what’s happening “in your head.”
Hormonal fluctuation and the decrease in estrogen production that comes with menopause can cause a number of symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction. Though brain fog and moodiness could be attributed to normal aging and poor sleep due to night sweats, some data suggest that hormonal fluctuations might also be a contributing factor.
The good news is that other data imply that mood swings level off and memory returns to pre-menopausal function after the menopause transition. And exercise, which has been shown to have positive effects on brain activity and mental abilities, can be particularly helpful in managing brain fog. You can also improve your memory and manage your moods by staying intellectually engaged and socially connected, by maintaining a healthy diet, not smoking, and minimizing alcohol consumption. Try incorporating these suggestions into your daily routine; if possible, for support, partner with a friend.
As always, if you feel your symptoms are becoming unmanageable, consult your health care provider.
Dr. Lisa Larkin is a board-certified internist practicing internal medicine and women’s health since 1991. She is the Founder and CEO of Ms. Medicine, LLC, a national membership organization for women’s health clinicians and a concierge women’s health primary care network. She is also the owner and President of Lisa Larkin, MD, and Associates, an independent, multispecialty practice offering direct primary care (DPC), concierge primary care and women’s health care in Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition, she serves as Director of Women’s Corporate Health for TriHealth, and she is the Founder and Executive Director of the Cincinnati Sexual Health Consortium, a non-profit designed to improve the sexual health and wellness of individuals in the Greater Cincinnati region through improved clinician collaboration and community outreach.
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