By Jane Murray, MD
The information in this article is not intended to suggest treatment, medical advice or medical diagnosis in any way, as it is simply information. We strongly recommend that you discuss all health matters and concerns with your health provider before beginning a new treatment approach.
Dear Dr. Jane,
I am in perimenopause and find that I am losing my brain! I go into a room and can’t remember why I went in. I used to have a good vocabulary, but now cannot for the life of me think of that word I know has a specific meaning…what is happening to me?? I forget the names of my good friends’ children. I leave my car keys who knows where. Will I ever be able to think again?
Fuzzy in St. Louis
This complaint is very common during the menopausal transition, and even after menopause. Several issues could be involved. First, if sleep is disrupted regularly due to hot flashes, night sweats or other problems (like consistently waking up between 2 and 3 AM) then the poor brain is not getting enough restorative rest to properly function during the day. We see so many women with that early morning waking issue, and very often oral progesterone seems to help a great deal.
For hot flashes and sleep-disturbing night sweats, many options are available for balancing your hormones.
For many women a deficiency of testosterone can contribute to brain fog – especially the word-finding difficulty you describe. General mental sharpness does seem to correlate with testosterone deficiency.
Mid life is well know as a time of multiple stressors – aging parents with illness, children leaving (and returning) to the nest, marital issues arising when the children leave home, etc. etc. Add these normal stressors to the current economy stress and you have a brain that is highly distracted and often unable to keep track of everyday details. Stress also causes sleep problems, and also contributes to hormone imbalance, especially related to the adrenal glands.
So, having a thorough evaluation of your hormone status and working with a practitioner who can help you with rebalancing your hormones, getting better sleep and handling stress more effectively can certainly help you find your brain again!
Jane Murray, MD