Forgetting a date, a fear inducing dentist appointment or a third cousins, wife’s name can happen to men or women, despite their age. However, women entering menopause are shocked to find that memory lapses, lack of concentration and inability to focus are common symptoms of menopause.
Waning estrogen and progesterone levels signal the end of fertility, but also influence a variety of monitoring systems in the body.
Lack of sufficient estrogen interrupts sleep patterns, increases body temperature, disrupts blood sugar, decreases memory and other brain functions. This chemical imbalance also dehydrates the skin, reduces libido, and increasing the production of stress hormones. Women experience lapses in short-term memory. Forgetting names, dates, losing thoughts mid-sentence and staring off into space during business meetings, instead of concentrating are troubling. Strangely, menopausal women can recall a childhood song, but cannot put a name to that thing on the desk that keeps paper tacked together, the stapler.
EstrogenEstrogen controls chemical signals from the brain that flow through the nervous system, transmitting information. In some cases, memory loss or lack of concentration result from other symptoms of menopause that disrupt thinking, such as lack of sleep, stress, poor diet, lack of exercise or dehydration.
Significant and debilitating memory impairment, disorientation, accompanied by changes in personality or behavior can be indications of a serious health problem. Women experiencing difficulty performing daily tasks should consult a medical health professional to rule out illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, brain disorders, and heart disease.
Symptoms of Memory LossExcess stress, overwhelming emotions, drastic life changes such as marriage, job promotion, loss of employment, children leaving home for college, can all cause lack of focus, and concentration as the body grieves, celebrates, or just adjusts to change.
For some women, the loss of up to 80 percent of estrogen stores in the body triggers hereditary diseases such as chemical imbalances in the brain. For other women, injuries and illness can cause temporary fuzziness in thinking and memory, especially fevers, inflammatory illnesses and medications.
Treatment for Memory LapsesDepending on an individual women’s reaction to waning estrogen and progesterone levels, treatment includes rest, relaxation, exercise, or medication adjustments. For a small percentage of women, chemical changes in the brain leave them debilitated. These women may require medications that balance mood, and brain chemicals, as well as, restoring estrogen losses.
Increasing exercise for the body and mind, eating a healthy diet rich in folic acid, soy, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, protein, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals diminishes memory loss. These super foods, broccoli, asparagus, blueberries, cranberries, Acai berries, salmon, eggs and nuts increase concentration, and enhance focus.
The most effective herbal supplements are those that nourish the pituitary and endocrine glands to produce estrogen and progesterone, naturally. Other supplements replace waning stores of hormones through artificial plant or animal estrogen. These supplements require habitual use to maintain hormone balances.
Phytoestrogenic herbs also decrease production of estrogen and progesterone, diminishing sex hormones during menopause. Consult a medical health professional before ingesting artificial estrogen supplements. A physician can discuss the risks and side effects of medications. A physician will also determine if the benefit outweighs the risk.
For the majority of women, however, waning hormones during menopause are short-lived. Exercising, eating a healthy diet, reducing intake of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, as well as challenging the brain with word games and puzzles increases memory, hones concentration and provides acute focus.