Is the mental fog of menopause real?

Is the mental fog of menopause real?

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Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D.
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Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D.

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It’s perfectly normal to experience the sense of a “mental fog” during the perimenopausal years (the term for the transition to menopause, which officially marks one year without a period). The mid-life years are multi-tasking ones for most women, which contributes to this sensation, but the dropping estrogen levels do affect the brain. While estrogen is mostly associated with reproductive health, as a hormone, estrogen readily passes into the brain, and affects brain function. With your brain cells no longer bathed in the same amount of estrogen it’s been accustomed to, many women report a change in mental sharpness, and short term memory that is a new (and often disturbing) experience.

The good news is that this is temporary, and as your brain adapts to the new lower estrogen levels this “brain fog” lifts. While there is no way to prevent this if it does occur (as with all symptoms, this can be just occasionally noticed or a major problem), try following a healthy lifestyle. Getting enough sleep, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and lean protein, along with daily physical activity often helps.

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