Many women will complain of menopause memory loss. It’s usually very subtle, but it can start as early as perimenopause. You forget why you walked into a room, you forget names, you forget bills that need to be paid, and you wonder what the heck is going on with your brain.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Menopause memory loss is usually a transient occurrence. Which means it’s not going to last very long.
This happens as your brain gets used to having fewer hormones. In order for your brain to function sharply, you really need adequate estrogen, which decreases during menopause.
Now, if you were the kind of person, like me, who’s never been able to put a name to a face. You’re not going to be able to remember any better during menopause. But if you’ve always been able to remember certain details or words, and now you’re forgetful, that’s something to alert to.
Estrogen helps you remember by speeding up the neural transmission of the messages in the brain. Progesterone, which is the other hormone that declines in menopause, helps with your memory by maintaining the myelin sheath around the nerve cells healthy. This is so the electrical impulses can hurry from one part of the brain to another. This typically helps you find that word, name, or date you’re trying to remember.
A lot of menopausal women will find that they do eventually remember things, but it just takes longer.
And that’s because the lack of progesterone has caused the myelin sheath to be a little thin. This makes memory recall a lot slower.
While hormones make a big difference in helping to recover your memory, you can also train your memory. This is a great thing to start doing as early as perimenopause. Start playing games to help with your memory, such as concentration, card games, or crossword puzzles. Anything that actually helps you to retain information. Also, make sure that you have little memory tips. Write things down, or repeat the name of someone who introduces themselves out loud.
Eventually, you’re going to find that you do retain the most important details.
Then, some of the things that once were really important when you were younger just aren’t as important anymore. They don’t really need to be retained. For instance, a lot of us are pretty bad with directions because we all use our digital map devices to help us find places. As a result, we don’t really need to retain that information in our brains anymore.
We do need to adjust to some factors throughout menopause. For instance, if you’re retired, you no longer work on a schedule. So when you lose that structure, your memory might be affected. Readjusting to your new schedule and writing things down as you would have when you were working can actually really help. Help to maintain your memory function. Seeing things on calendars instead of having them on our devices may be another way to help retain memory. This is because we’re used to seeing events that are supposed to be coming up, so we don’t have to hold it in our memory banks.
Some women are quite concerned with memory loss and its relationship to Alzheimer’s. We do know that women are more affected than men from Alzheimer’s. It’s more likely to affect women in the menopausal years. Alzheimer’s does not affect every woman. But it is a concern for menopausal women. It is good to be aware that there can be a protective effect using estrogen. To help prevent Alzheimer’s-related changes in the brain for those who are genetically predisposed. You definitely want to talk with your healthcare provider about your family history of Alzheimer’s, and what you can do to help prevent it.
When it comes to menopause memory loss, I like to take a nutritional approach.
The brain is highly responsive to good nutrition. One of the nutrients that are so important in maintaining good memory is omega-three fatty acids. By eating enough fatty fish, taking fish oils, or taking algae-derived DHA, you can help maintain memory, focus, and concentration.
You can decrease inflammation throughout the body by eating a very colorful diet. This includes lots of fruits and vegetables of different colors because they’re rich in antioxidants and other vital micronutrients. By eating these every day, it makes a huge difference in maintaining memory.
There are also certain spices that are great anti-inflammatories and can help to improve brain function. One of these spices, golden turmeric, actually has a beautiful anti-inflammatory effect on the brain. Turmeric is best taken with black pepper because the Bioperine found in black pepper can actually enhance the absorption of the active ingredient in turmeric, which is called curcumin. You also need to have fat with turmeric in order to absorb it properly, such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, or nuts and seeds. One of my favorite ways to use turmeric is in golden milk, which is a coconut oil-based drink with turmeric and other spices, like ginger and cinnamon. Taking golden milk is a good way to get turmeric into your diet and help to help maintain healthy brain function.
Diet alone isn’t enough to prevent or recover from menopause memory loss.
Aerobic exercise is super important to keep your brain young. Exercise increases circulation to your entire body, including your brain. Exercise also helps reduce systemic inflammation, which in turn, helps prevent memory loss.
Making sure you’re getting adequate sleep is also very important in maintaining healthy brain function and memory, especially during menopause. Since menopause can increase your risk of insomnia, loss of sleep actually means that your brain doesn’t get to rest and repair. Getting as much sleep as possible and dealing with the symptoms of insomnia will help to recover some of your memory loss.
We talk a lot about symptoms of menopause in our hormone support group, which you can access through our Hormonal Reboot Training. It’s a great place to have conversations with other women who are also going through the change and get the support you need during this time.