Menopause and Memory
Written by Dr Laila Kaikavoosi
Estrogen and testosterone have an important role to play on memory and cognition. During menopause and the years leading to it, the levels of these hormones drop.
“I am always loosing my keys”
“I think I’m loosing my mind”
“I may be getting Alzheimer’s”
“I have a foggy brain”
“I can’t spell anymore”
These are a few of relatively common complaints I hear from women during their consultations.
Estrogen has a protective effect on brain cells and increases the blood supply to them. The function of brain cells therefore increases and there is reduced rate of decline in memory and cognition.
Interestingly, estrogen is a neuroactive hormone. This means that it reacts with receptors in the brain to modulate serotonin (the happy hormone) activity. A rapid change in estrogen levels can lead to reduced serotonin levels which can cause depression.
Testosterone also plays an important role in maintaining memory. It increases norepinephrine (a neurotransmitter/messenger) in the brain which has the same effect as taking an antidepressant.
In order for testosterone to work well, estrogen levels must be optimised. This is why balancing of hormones should be the goal of treatment rather than increasing and optimising individual hormones in isolation.
The great news is…. unlike previously believed that we have all the brain cells we will ever have at birth, it has now been demonstrated that the human brain continues to make new cells throughout life so there is hope! Many factors, including genetics and lifestyle, influence this.
Hormonal replacement and balancing at the time of perimenopause and menopause is one way to reduce rate of decline and encourage new brain cells to form. Other important factors to consider are to:
🔅 Get enough sleep
🔅 Reduce alcohol intake
🔅 Get regular Exercise both for body and the brain- e.g sudoku, cross words
🔅 Learn a new skill like a new language or a musical instrument
🔅 Replace zinc if zinc deficient
🔅 Lose excess weight
…..And as always breath and choose to remain positive ✨