How to improve memory during perimenopause or menopause is one of the most asked questions by woman going though this season of our lives. The reason for that is that many women experience memory issues during menopause and perimenopause. The most common memory issues include general forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, confusion, slow thinking, getting easily distracted, among others.
Can you improve memory during menopause or perimenopause?
Yes you can (but I forgot how to do it, (bad joke!)). We will discuss here what causes memory problems during menopause and perimenopause and the options we have improve them.
What causes memory problems during menopause and perimenopause?
Common memory problems are a result of many factors. Let’s review some of them:
Hormonal changes: As you know, menopause is characterized by a decline in estrogen and progesterone levels. Both hormones have a role in memory, and therefore, a reduction can affect memory and cognitive function. But normally this is not the only cause or the main cause. The changes in memory due to hormonal fluctuation can be small or even non-existing. However, when we combine the hormonal deficiencies with some of the other causes discussed here, the memory problems can become more intense.
Insufficient sleep: Many women experience sleep disturbances during perimenopause and menopause. As you know lack of sleep is terrible for memory and concentration.
Stress: Stress is one of the biggest villains during menopause. Stress, as we know, can have a terrible effect on memory. Many women experience increased stress during menopause and perimenopause due to the physical and emotional changes they are experiencing.
Nutrient deficiencies: Nutrient deficiencies, particularly in vitamins B6, B12, folate, iron, and vitamin D, have been linked to memory problems.
Inflammation: Chronic inflammation in the body can affect memory and cognitive function.
Genetics: Some studies suggest that certain genetic factors may make some women more susceptible to memory problems during menopause.
Emotional problems: Such as depression and anxiety.
Thyroid disorders. The thyroid is a very sensitive gland that is affected by stress, liver problems, adrenal problems, and hormonal fluctuations. Many women have thyroid issues during menopause and perimenopause.
Life. By life I mean, in midlife, we have many emotional problems in our careers as well as personal lives. This is going to create stress and affect our memory.
How can you improve memory during menopause and perimenopause?
You have many options to improve your memory. From the previous list, evaluate what do you think is affecting you the most. For example, are you a vegan and maybe you have B12 deficiency? How is your sleep; are you under stress?
Let’s discuss some of the potential solutions. Before we talk about each activity let me say that the best solution normally is a combination of activities.
- Stay physically active. Regular exercise can help improve blood flow to the brain and increase the production of brain-protective chemicals. In addition, it lowers stress and inflammation and helps to regulate hormones.
- Eat a healthy diet. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, good fats including omega 3 oils, and good proteins can help support brain health. Make sure you are having all the nutrients that you need.
- Get enough sleep: During menopause, many women may experience sleep disturbances, such as night sweats and difficulty sleeping the whole night, which can affect memory. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. This can be difficult and we will discuss it in another article. In my online program, BLISS in Menopause, we have specific techniques to sleep better because lack of sleep aggravate almost all other menopausal symptoms.
- Manage stress: Stress can greatly affect memory. It’s important to find ways to manage stress such as prayer, meditation, and other relaxation techniques. My favorite is to spend time in nature.
- Good hormones. Activate your “feel good hormones” dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. To have more of these hormones is easy for example hug people and pets, smile and laugh. Think happy thoughts and watch funny movies. Anything that makes you happy makes more of these good hormones. These hormones eliminate stress.
- Illnesses. If you have anxiety or feel depressed, look for professional help, why suffer more.
- Drink water. Dehydration is terrible for brain function.
Supplements to improve memory during menopause and perimenopause
There are several supplements that are believed to help improve memory and cognitive function. There is no definitive proof that they work. Also the effectiveness of these supplements can vary from person to person. Some of the most commonly used supplements for memory and cognitive function include:
Omega-3 fatty acids: These are found in fish oil and have been found to help improve memory and cognitive function in some studies. Look for good quality supplements.
- Ginkgo biloba: This is an herb that is believed to improve blood flow to the brain and may help improve memory and cognitive function.
- Bacopa monnieri: This is a commonly used herb in Ayurvedic medicine to help improve memory.
- Phosphatidylserine: This is a chemical that is found in cell membranes and is thought to help improve memory.
- Vitamins. Vitamin E, D, all the vitamins B, particularly B6, B12, and folic acid.
- Medical treatments to improve memory during menopause and perimenopause
In medicine there are limited options to improve memory during menopause and perimenopause, but the one available is very effective, hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) or its more “natural” cousin bio identical hormonal replacement therapy (BHRT). You can read here which one is better in this article. The doctors will also try to find out if the patient has other conditions, such as depression. It is always a good idea to consult with the doctor to rule out other causes, even though most doctors tend to just tell women in menopause that “it is normal.” I believe only being healthy is normal, don’t accept this answer and look for a solution for you.
Improving memory during menopause with functional medicine
Functional medicine is a holistic approach to healthcare that focuses on identifying and addressing the underlying causes of disease, instead of treating just the symptoms. In functional medicine, in addition to the tips above, the practitioners may also recommend:
- Bio identical hormonal replacement therapy (BHRT). Many practitioners of functional medicine love to prescribe BHRT and one of the reasons could be financial; keep this in mind.
- Nutritional therapy: Functional medicine practitioners may recommend specific nutrient-dense diets. Some of these practitioners use Paleo or Keto, Vegan diets and others.
- Detoxification: Many functional medicine practitioners believe that some symptoms are caused by toxins in the body and they use different methods to remove them.
- Other treatments: Some practitioners may recommend thyroid, adrenal or liver treatments as these organs may have an impact in memory and other menopause symptoms.
Activities to improve memory during menopause and perimenopause
Activities that reduce stress and challenge your brain and body are good for your memory. Among these are:
- Yoga: Yoga has been found to help reduce stress and improve memory.
- Tai chi: Tai chi is a form of martial arts that has been found to improve memory, particularly in older adults. Qi Gong is similar and equally beneficial.
- Dance: Dance is a fun way to improve memory, as it involves learning and performing choreographed movements. I recommend dancing to my clients because it helps in many other areas, such as self-esteem and feeling sensual.
- Being in nature has been found to have a positive effect on overall health and well-being, and some research suggests that it may also help improve memory. Become a green goddess.
Memory issues are common during menopause and perimenopause, but remember common doesn’t mean healthy. Not every woman in this stage of their life has them, I don’t have any issues and I have many clients who don’t have them either. You can improve your memory and you have many options to do it. If you want to explore a natural, holistic way, I invite you to consider my program BLISS in Menopause. Leave me a comment and tell me is you are using any supplement to improve memory.