Written by Dr. Valentina Quintana MD on
December 5, 2022
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Valentina Quintana MD on:

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If you’re like most women, you’re probably experiencing brain fog during menopause. This can be a really frustrating and confusing time, but don’t worry – you’re not alone!

In this article, we’ll discuss what causes foggy brain menopause and how to deal with it. We’ll also provide some tips for maintaining healthy brain function throughout this process.

Let’s get started.

What is menopause?

Menopause, also known as the climacteric, is the natural transition that happens in women’s lives as they go from being fertile to being post-menopausal. This menopausal transition can cause a lot of changes, both physically and mentally.

During menopause, the production of estrogen and progesterone decreases.

These hormones are important for overall health and play a role in many different aspects of women’s lives, including memory, energy levels, and mood.

When these hormones decrease, it can cause various cognitive symptoms, such as brain fog, memory problems, fatigue, and mood swings.

Causes of Menopause

The climacteric is caused by the natural aging process that happens in women’s lives.

As women reach their late 40s or early 50s, their ovarian function begins to slow down, and hormone production starts to decrease.

This happens when the ovaries are no longer producing eggs and stop releasing estrogen and progesterone, which are responsible for controlling menstrual cycles and maintaining healthy hormone levels.

Menopause Symptoms

As mentioned above, the climacteric causes a variety of physical and mental symptoms. The most common ones are the following:

Lower fertility

Lower fertility is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. This occurs because the number and quality of eggs produced by the ovaries gradually decrease, leading to a decrease in fertility.

Irregular menstruation

Irregular periods, also known as perimenopause, are common symptoms of the climacteric.

Perimenopause is the transition period before the climacteric and can last for several years. During this time, your hormone fluctuations may be more pronounced and cause changes in your menstrual cycle.

Many women experience irregular periods during this time, including lighter and heavier bleeding, longer or shorter cycles, and missed periods.

Vaginal dryness and discomfort

Vaginal dryness and discomfort are common symptoms of menopause. This occurs because of the decrease in estrogen production by the ovaries, which can lead to a thinning of the vaginal walls and decreased lubrication.

This leads to discomfort during sexual intercourse, as well as burning, itching, and soreness. Women may also experience other symptoms, such as urinary incontinence and pain during urination.

Hot flashes

Hot flashes are another common symptom of the climacteric and can be caused by a decrease in estrogen.

These hot flashes can cause intense feelings of heat, flushing, and sweating, often lasting for a few minutes or even hours.

Sleep disturbances

Sleep disturbances are a common symptom of menopause.

Due to the decrease in estrogen levels, women may experience difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up during the night. This can lead to feelings of exhaustion and fatigue during the day.

The decrease in estrogen also affects melatonin production, which is responsible for regulating circadian rhythms and can lead to jet lag-like symptoms.

Mood swings

Changes in hormone levels during the climacteric can also cause mood swings, anxiety, irritability, and depression.

These changes are caused by a decrease in serotonin production, which is responsible for regulating emotions and feelings of well-being.

Trouble focusing and learning

Brain fog and trouble focusing and learning are common symptoms of menopause.

These cognitive issues can be caused by a decrease in estrogen levels, which can lead to a decrease in serotonin production.

This decreased serotonin production affects the neurotransmitter pathways that control memory, focus, and learning.

Women going through the climacteric may find it difficult to recall memories, have trouble focusing and concentrating, or feel confused.

Physical changes

Physical changes are also common symptoms of menopause and are often caused by a decrease in estrogen levels.

These physical changes can include an increase in body fat, a decrease in muscle mass, and an overall change in body shape.

Women may experience increased abdominal fat, sagging breasts, thinning hair, dry skin, and wrinkles.

Complications

The climacteric is a natural process that all women go through, but it can also come with a variety of complications. The most common complication include the following:

Burning mouth syndrome

Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a condition that occurs as a complication of menopause. It is characterized by a burning sensation that affects the tongue, lips, mouth, or throat area.

This burning sensation can range from slight discomfort to extreme pain, and it can last for minutes or even hours. In some cases, symptoms may not improve even after hormone therapy.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become fragile and are more prone to fracture. It occurs due to decreased estrogen levels during menopause, which can lead to a decrease in bone density.

Research has shown that women who experience early climacteric transition are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis.

Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure

Heart disease is a major complication of menopause and can be caused by an increase in ‘bad’ cholesterol levels.

This increase in ‘bad’ cholesterol is believed to be caused by the decrease in estrogen during the climacteric, which can lead to increased inflammation, blood vessel damage, and blockages.

Weight Gain

Weight gain is another common complication of menopause. The decrease in estrogen levels can lead to an increase in body fat, muscle loss, and an overall change in body shape.

Women may find that they are gaining weight even when their diet and exercise habits remain the same. This can be a difficult symptom to deal with for many women going through the climacteric.

How long does menopause last?

The climacteric typically lasts between 2-5 years, but it can vary from woman to woman.

The average age for menopause is 51, but some women may experience it earlier or later than this age.

What is brain fog, exactly?

Brain fog or mental fog is a term used to describe a feeling of confusion and difficulty concentrating.

It can manifest as having trouble learning new information, being unable to recall memories or facts you once knew, struggling to keep up with conversations or mental tasks, or having an overall sense of confusion and lack of clarity.

Mental fog can be caused by a number of things, including the climacteric.

What causes menopause brain fog?

There are a number of things that can cause mental fog in the climacteric, including the following:

Hormones

During menopause, estrogen and other hormone levels can decrease. This can lead to a decreased production of serotonin which affects the neurotransmitter pathways that control memory, focus, and learning.

Stress

Stress is a common cause of brain fog, and the climacteric can be a particularly stressful time for women as they go through physical changes.

Sleep Disturbances

Getting enough sleep is important for maintaining focus and clarity, but during menopause, it can be difficult to get a good night’s rest due to hot flashes and other physical symptoms.

What are the symptoms of brain fog?

The symptoms of mental fog vary from person to person, but they can include the following:

  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Slowed thinking or processing speed
  • Struggling to keep up with conversations
  • Difficulty learning new skills
  • Feeling confused or disoriented
  • Trouble staying focused
  • Feeling forgetful

How to Deal with Foggy Brain Menopause & Aid Brain Health

Here are a few steps you can take to help with foggy brain menopause and improve your cognitive function:

Optimize your sleep quality.

Getting enough good quality sleep is important for maintaining focus and clarity.

To improve sleep quality, make sure that you’re:

  • going to bed and waking up at the same time every day,
  • avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed,
  • reducing stress throughout the day,
  • and ensuring your bedroom is dark and cool.

Eat a well-balanced diet.

It’s important to maintain a healthy and balanced diet to help support cognitive function.

Research shows that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can improve cognitive health and help with mental clarity.

So, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates to ensure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs.

Add more healthy fats.

Good fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, are important for brain health.

Include foods like oily fish, nuts, seeds, and avocados in your diet to help improve your cognitive function.

Add soy isoflavones.

Soy isoflavones are known to have a beneficial effect on menopausal symptoms and mental fog.

Adding soy products to your diet can help improve cognitive function, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep quality.

Consider supplementation.

There are several supplements that can help with brain fog during the climacteric, including omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamins D and E, ginkgo Biloba, and others.

Talk to your doctor or a healthcare professional before taking any supplement to make sure it’s right for you.

Stay hydrated.

Staying hydrated is important for overall health but can also help with foggy brain menopause.

One study found that mild dehydration can lead to reduced cognitive function and focus, while minimal rehydration can improve brain function instantaneously.

So, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water during the day to stay hydrated and avoid dehydration.

Keep your stress in check.

Stress can have a huge impact on your cognitive function and can make it difficult to focus and stay alert.

Studies show that mindfulness and meditation can be beneficial for reducing stress levels and helping with cognitive function.

Try to find ways to reduce stress throughout the day, such as using deep breathing exercises, taking regular breaks from work or other activities, and getting some exercise.

Work out your body.

Exercising can help improve your focus and clarity, as well as reduce stress.

Try to get regular physical activity throughout the week. This can be anything from a brisk walk around the block to aerobics or yoga.

Exercise your mind.

Keeping your mind active can help reduce foggy brain symptoms during the climacteric.

Try activities that challenge you and keep your brains engaged, such as puzzles, reading, or learning a new skill or a new language.

Consider therapy.

There are a few therapies you can consider when experiencing menopause and its symptoms, such as mental fog. The most common are the following:

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a treatment option for women who are experiencing the climacteric and its symptoms, including cognitive fog.

This therapy helps restore the hormones that decrease during the menopausal transition and even after, such as estrogen and progesterone.

It works by replacing these hormones with synthetic hormones that are similar to those naturally produced in your body.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy can help with the mental and emotional symptoms of menopause, such as depression, anxiety, and irritability.

Talking to a qualified therapist can provide helpful strategies on how to cope with the symptoms of menopause and find ways to manage stress.

It can also give you coping techniques that can help you better deal with brain fog.

Cognitive-Behavioral  Therapy

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that helps you to identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors.

This type of therapy helps break the cycle of negative thoughts and feelings, helping reduce anxiety and stress, which can help with menopausal symptoms such as brain fog.

By understanding how to address and alter negative thought patterns, you can improve your overall mental health.

The Bottom Line

Dealing with menopause brain fog can be challenging, but there are steps you can take to manage it.

Eating a healthy diet full of nutrient-rich foods, staying hydrated, and exercising both your body and mind can help improve cognitive function and reduce symptoms of brain fog.

Additionally, hormone therapy and psychotherapy can provide additional relief.

If you want to learn more about brain fog and how to manage menopause, reach out to your doctor or a healthcare professional for advice.

Also, feel free to learn more about clearing brain fog naturally and supporting your brain function more effectively by scanning through our resources.

And don’t forget to join our online community, where you can share experiences and find support from other people going through the same thing!

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