Thursday, May 28th

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: :   Survival Tips When to Call a Professional When Your Memory Sabotages You

When Your Memory Sabotages You

We all forget from time to time where we put our keys or why we got up and went into another room. These instances are common, but mostly (and thankfully) they are momentary lapses. But menopause has some strange effects on us, and no two women have exactly the same experience.

Some women suffer from, in addition to other symptoms, memory lapses or "fuzzy" thinking.

HFN 025 MemorySab 1 7330447If you have a hectic job, whether it's managing a business or waiting on tables in a busy restaurant, the last thing you need is to forget what you're doing or what you need to do next. How does this veil of hazy concentration intersect with menopause?

It's That Estrogen Again
As noted in many other HFN articles on this site, when your estrogen levels begin to fluctuate, you enter into perimenopause. This can cause not only hot flashes, mood changes, and other common side effects, but also problems with your memory and ability to think clearly. We have a whole new respect for estrogen once we understand how much it's done for us since we started menstruating and wearing that first training bra.

Estrogen actually helps our learning process, attention, and language skills, such as our ability to recall names and words. As we age and our estrogen supply diminishes, so can these skills, unless we take proactive steps to slow the damage. You might decide to weigh the risks and take hormone replacement therapy or make lifestyle choices like eating a healthy diet including phytoestrogens (see HFN''s article on food choices), making exercise a daily routine, doing puzzles like Sudoko, and learning new skills, such as a musical instrument, a foreign language, or a card game like bridge.

There's a reason why exercise is recommended as therapy for so many health issues (see HFN's section on Exercise). In this case, aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate sends oxygen to your brain, allowing it to function better. Exercise is good for your brain's hippocampus, which happens to oversee memory. Vigorous exercise helps to grow more neurons in that area. Aside from cardiovascular, metabolic, and weight benefits, regular exercise is recommended as a hedge against dementia-related illnesses. Ready to sign up?

Episodes of fuzzy thinking can turn a previously competent woman into someone making a lot of mistakes, confused about what's happening to her, and reacting defensively to cover up what's happening. Rather than go through this without help, it's wise to make an appointment with your doctor and discuss the changes you notice. They're likely due to menopause, and an FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) test will reveal whether or not your estrogen levels are declining. Then you and your physician can make an informed decision about your options. ♀

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