There’s no way around it: Menopause’s symptoms—hot flashes, night sweats, and down-there dryness. But for some, losing your period can leave you feeling like you’re losing your mind, too.
Forgetfulness during menopausal years is one of the symptoms. In fact, some research suggests that 60% of perimenopausal women notice “unfavorable” memory changes.
There is a general consensus based on some longitudinal data that in perimenopause and early post-menopause, there are cognitive difficulties for some women and some mood changes, which seem to level back to normal once you get further into menopause.
What gives? Symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, poor sleep, and mood changes could give way to stumbles in cognition, says. Part of the problem is also that there are a whole lot of things going on in a typical 50- to 55-year-old woman’s life which can take a lot of attention: kids going off to school; kids coming home; dealing with job issues and partner’s job issues; dealing with aging parents—huge stressors.
Fortunately, there are some ways to fight back. Take these 4 steps to feel better and banish fogginess for good.
Protect your heart
Your heart and your head have more in common than you think. A study found that cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes were all linked with a higher risk of mental decline in postmenopausal women. The connection likely boils down to a healthy blood flow throughout the body.
The best approach to brain health and wellness is to promote factors that maintain the health of the cardiovascular system. To keep your mind sharp, start by controlling issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, and abnormal cholesterol, and nix habits like smoking cigarettes.
Go on a run
You know that exercise can make you feel better, but it can do a world of good for your brain, too. Research found that exercise was associated with lower rates of cognitive decline in postmenopausal women. When in doubt, consider cardio: Heart-pumping workouts seemed to boost health the most, the researchers found.
Sleep can be massively disrupted by hot flashes. When you are not sleeping well, stressors and your brain are really off the wall. In fact, one found that older women who slept five or less hours a night had worse cognition skills than those who slept seven hours. But sleeping too much isn’t the answer: Ladies who slept for nine hours a night or more suffered from declines in cognition. The research suggests that extremes (too much or too little sleep) as well as big changes (like sleeping six hours one night and 10 hours the next) can negatively impact brain function. Your best bet is to stick to seven or eight hours a night—no matter what day of the week it is.
Regular Check up
A good relationship with your healthcare provider—your gynecologist or primary care doc—is a key part of managing menopausal symptom. A study from Massachusetts General Hospital: It found that a better relationship with your doc (making eye contact, feeling understood, setting goals) can be as beneficial to your health as some small medicinal interventions like daily aspirins to prevent against heart attack.