Cognitive Problems During Menopause Are Common, What You Can Do


Dear doctors: I am 52 years old and I am going through menopause. I knew insomnia, night sweats and hot flashes. What is upsetting is that I am also becoming mentally less alert. Is it part of menopause? Would hormone replacement therapy help?

Reply: Menopause is one of the major milestones in a woman’s life, but women often face menopause on their own, when there is an abundance of books, classes, and doctor’s visits to help them prepare. to have a baby.

A woman goes through menopause when she has not had a period for 12 months. The transition to menopause, known as perimenopause, is often gradual. It occurs due to a natural decline in reproductive hormones when a woman’s ovaries stop working.

Symptoms include trouble sleeping, night sweats, and hot flashes that you mentioned. They can also include cramps, headaches, weight gain, fatigue, sore breasts, thinning hair, low libido, urinary incontinence, depression, and anxiety.

The memory changes you experience often accompany menopause as well. It is estimated that up to two-thirds of women suffer from some degree of cognitive impairment associated with menopause or brain fog.

This can include issues with decision making, learning and withholding new information, concentrating, thinking clearly and forgetting.

While the reasons aren’t entirely clear, research suggests a link with the decline in reproductive hormones, especially estrogen. It is also believed that sleep disturbances play a role.

Hormone replacement therapy (low dose estrogen or a combination of estrogen and progesterone) is sometimes prescribed to relieve the physical symptoms of menopause. Some women say it helps with cognitive issues as well.

But long-term use of HRT is associated with adverse health effects, including an increased risk of breast cancer, heart attack, stroke, and blood clots.

Talk to your health care provider to find out if the benefits outweigh the risks for you.

Lifestyle changes can make all the difference, starting with a well-balanced diet. Consider the Mediterranean diet, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids and unsaturated fats that stimulate the brain. Eating a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens has been linked to improved cognition.

Exercise is also helpful. Studies have shown that even light exercise, such as yoga or tai chi, or low-intensity workout on a stationary bike can improve memory.

Good quality sleep is also important for cognition.

For most postmenopausal women, these cognitive changes don’t last. If symptoms worsen, ask your healthcare professional to rule out other possible causes.

Drs. Eve Glazier and Elizabeth Ko are internists at UCLA Health.

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