Is There A Link Between Menopause And Memory?
Many menopausal women experience, among other things, difficulty remembering names, faces, grocery lists and everything else. Memory loss seems to be a frequent occurrence among menopausal women, although doctors and scientists debate its cause and validity. Studies have shown a wide array of results and none seem to agree.
Menopause and Memory
The only people who can agree are those menopausal women who are experiencing memory problems. If the hot flashes, mood swings and fluctuating hormones aren't enough, the forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating and general brain fuzziness is enough to frustrate any woman. The stress that women experience during menopause from the varying symptoms can be especially difficult to deal with, particularly the symptoms seem endless.
What Studies Say
Of course there have been numerous studies researching any link between menopause and memory, and as such, the study results vary widely. Some studies say the loss of estrogen during menopause causes some memory impairment; other studies say loss of estrogen absolutely does not affect memory. Hormone replacement therapy used to be promoted as a way to protect against memory loss, and now it's been shown to increase a woman's risk of dementia as well as breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. Other studies have shown that there is no decrease whatsoever in memory due to menopause.
Memory Loss A Result of Menopausal Stress
One study makes an interesting point. Two professors at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Mark Mapstone, Ph. D., and Miriam Weber, Ph. D., have found that among women complaining of memory loss, some actually had a more difficult time learning and storing new information. So, instead of being forgetful, their brains were actually having difficulty learning. Therefore, when the women tried to repeat the learned information, they couldn't remember it. The study also found that most of the women were also experiencing some form of depression or anxiety, which is a common occurrence among menopausal women. Mapstone and Weber have proposed that the stress and anxiety women often experience during menopause causes them to have difficulty storing new information. If, for example, a woman is at a work meeting and experiencing a hot flash or a mood swing due to menopause, she may hear what happens at the meeting but not fully store the information. She's probably feeling uncomfortable physically due to the hot flash, and emotionally, by worrying if her co-workers notice her perspiration and flushing. Therefore, by the end of the meeting, the woman may realize she has no idea what happened, because she was experiencing so much anxiety.
Tips to Manage Menopausal Memory Loss
Most importantly, know that you are not alone in this situation. Millions of women experience menopause and so many of those women also experience memory loss, anxiety and frustration. It's common to feel this way; menopause seems to take over your body and you have little control over the symptoms. Consider a support group or therapist, or even just talking with friends experiencing the same thing. Talking about your problem will help you feel better. Other tips include:
- Regular Exercise
- Balanced Diet
- Use a notebook or date book
- Make daily to-do lists
- Keep frequently used information handy
- Keep things in perspective
- Reduce stress
Sources: http://www.news-medical.net/?id=15728 http://www.webmd.com/menopause/tc/menopause-and-perimenopause-symptoms