Hold That Pause
Hold That Pause

Scientists Confirm “Brain Fog” in Menopause is Real

The National Institute on Aging recently funded a study which looked at the effects of menopause on a woman’s memory and cognitive function.  As it turns out, that “brain-fog” that settles over us like a wet blanket once we reach menopause? It’s real. 

Science Daily reports that the study, conducted by scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center and the University of Illinois at Chicago, and published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), corroborates what women in menopause have known all along: short-term memory issues, some brain function issues, and that dreaded brain-fog, has scientifically documented, neurological roots. 

75 women were included in the study, ranging in age from 40 to 60, and were either beginning menopause or approaching menopause. Several skills were examined, including the ability to maintain attention over long periods of time, the ability to learn and retain new information, and the ability to process and mentally assimilate new information.

The women were also asked about their menopause symptoms such as depression, hot flashes, insomnia, and anxiety, in addition to measuring the blood levels of their hormones estradiol and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone).

Not surprisingly, the memory and cognitive issues reported were not consistent from woman to woman, and were not all related to actual memory loss issues. For example, some women reported difficulty in simply maintaining attention while doing boring tasks such as tax returns, completing a difficult report for work, or getting through a challenging book.  Those women who had the most complaints about actual memory loss, also complained of depression, anxiety, and insomnia.  

Overall, the study isn’t particularly earth-shattering if you ask me.  It doesn’t really offer any new insight into poor memory function, memory loss, and brain-fog, which women know from experience, is associated with menopause.  And frankly, who doesn’t have trouble maintaining attention while doing boring tasks?

It does recognize, however, that the change of menopause is not sudden and dramatic, but instead, a long and relatively complex change which occurs over a period of time.  I think it’s also worth noting that there is a big difference in the blood hormone levels (barring surgical menopause) between a 40 year old woman and a 60 year old woman, which could certainly account for some of the differences reported among the women in the study. 

There were a few other points I also wanted to make about the study, but for the life of me, I can’t recall what they were. But you can read the study for yourself right here.

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Magnolia is dedicated to empowering women to take responsibility for their own health.