Memory Loss

Memory loss is one of the most common signs of menopause...

...referred to as brain fog, it is a normal symptom of menopause.

Memory Lapse

Memory loss in menopause

Short term memory issues during menopause, commonly referred to as brain fog, can have an impact on all aspects of a woman’s life.

Misplaced car keys, forgotten appointments and lost trains of thought may seem trivial but can be frustrating especially for those who have never missed a beat before.

While a certain amount of memory loss is inevitable with aging, and the odd moment of forgetfulness is nothing to worry about, brain fogs during menopause are difficult to deal with as they are more intense than simple absent-mindedness. They can impair concentration levels and make it difficult to process, store and retrieve information.

Usually memory loss in menopause presents itself as momentary memory lapses. If however the occurrences become regular it is wise to seek medical advice to treat the causes.

The causes of short term memory loss in menopause

Hormonal imbalance due to declining estrogen production has an impairing effect on short term memory, making concentration difficult. This is because estrogen affects the cognitive functions through its influence on the vascular and immune systems.

Fatigue lowers energy and concentration levels, which can cause problems with processing, absorbing and recalling information. Fatigue is a common sign of menopause resulting from hormonal changes, night sweats, sleeplessness, anxiety and stress.

Depression can cause distraction, lack of interest, and difficulty concentrating which are likely to hinder memory. While depression can be experienced by men and women at any age, women are especially prone to it during menopause.

Hypothyroidism is a common side-effect of menopausal hormonal changes where the body does not produce enough thyroid hormones. As a result, the thyroid is unable to regulate metabolism. When the metabolism does not function correctly the entire body, including the cognitive functions, are affected.

Stress is another common sign of menopause. When under stress, the brain produces cortisol to increase energy and alertness. When stress is chronic or ongoing, the brain is filled with cortisol for emergency use which these can obstruct some cognitive processes, leading to short term memory issues.

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Post-menopause


This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.

Perimenopause

Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.