Menopause and ‘brain fog’

21st October 2022 By Phoenix Hospital Group

October is Menopause Awareness Month, which aims to raise awareness about menopause and the support options available to women experiencing it. It also aims to destigmatise menopause and encourage women to talk about it more openly.

The theme for this year is cognition and mood, with a particular focus on ‘brain fog’ which is a symptom that affects many menopausal women. We spoke to Dr Soumit Singhai, who runs a specialist Memory Clinic at 25 Harley Street, and is an expert in memory loss. Here, he explains the links between menopause and brain fog, and provides advice on the best ways to manage it.


What is brain fog?

Brain fog is a term that is often used to describe a sensation of sluggishness, confusion and forgetfulness, often as a symptom of illness, stress or lack of sleep. Many who experience brain fog describe feeling like their head is full of cotton wool. It is also a common symptom of the menopause.

For women experiencing the menopause, brain fog is usually characterised by the following symptoms:

  • Memory issues
  • Lack of mental clarity
  • Poor concentration
  • Inability to focus


Why does menopause cause brain fog?

There is research that shows a possible link between oestrogen levels and the neurotransmitter systems that aid memory and processing. Declining levels of oestrogen and progesterone, and fluctuations during perimenopause may be partly responsible for brain fog symptoms.

There is also some research that suggests that menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes and sleep problems can affect cognitive function, contributing to brain fog.

However, while brain fog can be quite confusing and alarming to those experiencing it, research shows that it tends to improve after the menopause.


How to manage brain fog symptoms

Focused lifestyle changes are key to keeping your brain healthy, so some changes you can make to minimise any brain fog symptoms include:

  • Eating a healthy, balanced Mediterranean-style diet
  • Making sure to get enough good quality sleep, roughly 7-8 hours a night
  • Exercising regularly
  • Managing stress optimally

There may also be a role for HRT (hormone replacement therapy), although the evidence is somewhat debated. HRT is known to improve sleep, mood and hot flushes during menopause and as these symptoms can affect cognition, treating them may in turn improve any memory or concentration issues.


What to do if you’re experiencing menopause-related brain fog

 It’s natural to feel worried and frustrated if you’re experiencing brain fog, but it is important to remember that, for the most part, this is just a symptom of the menopause that will pass in time. Additionally, there are measures you can take to improve any brain fog symptoms, as described above.

If you are concerned about memory loss, you can book a consultation with Dr Singhai at our Memory Clinic, who will be able to provide reassurance and guidance while investigation any potential further issues.

We also have GPs and women’s health experts who specialise in menopause and can help if you are looking for advice and treatment for your menopause symptoms.

Call us on 0207 079 2100 to book an appointment with any of our specialists, or email us at [email protected] and a member of the appointments team will be in touch to book you in.