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For many women going through menopause, memory lapses can be the most concerning symptom. They can lead women to believe their minds are receding into a fog of mental illness. There are many misunderstandings about memory lapses as they relate to menopause, which will be cleared up in this section. Continue reading to learn what memory lapses are, what causes them, and the treatment options available.
About Memory Lapses
Webster's Dictionary defines memory as “the mental capacity or faculty of retaining or recalling facts, events, impressions, or previous experiences”. Memory lapses, then, are fleeting periods when a person loses the mental capacity or faculty of retaining or recalling information.
Two types of memory are affected in women who experience memory lapses: short-term memory and recent memory.
Women who suffer from memory lapses typically report that they have “brain freeze” when trying to remember where they left their reading glasses, for example. Recollections of names, dates, and addresses can also evade a woman experiencing memory lapses during menopause, especially when she just received that information.
Types of memory
Memory is often simplified into only two categories: short- and long-term memory. In fact, there are several types that comprise the extremely complex function of a person's memory. The different types of memory shown below will give a better idea of the different functions memory serves.
The ability to remember information for brief moments, such as a telephone number for the time it takes to dial it.
The ability to recall day to day events, involved in learning new information.
The ability to recognize smells, sounds, and sights.
Also known as remote memory, concerns itself with the more distant past.
The ability to remember the meaning of words, facts, and a generalized knowledge of the world.
The ability to remember motor skills – knowing how to do things – such as how to walk, ride a bike, and eat.
Symptoms of memory lapses
The primary symptom of memory lapses is the inability to recall information at will; but, there are other secondary symptoms of memory lapses as well.
Forgetting a recent event and remembering it later
Once a woman is able to recognize that she is having memory lapses, it can be extremely useful to learn about how and why they happen.
Click on the following link to learn more about memory lapses, or continue reading on to learn more about the various causes of this aggravating symptom.
Perimenopause is a time of numerous changes for a woman, and some of these changes can't be seen, like memory loss. Caused primarily by hormonal imbalances, memory issues commonly afflict menopausal women, and these affect concentration, attention span, and the ability to absorb new information.
Alcohol is a part of most people's social lives because of its ability to relax and boost confidence. However, alcohol affects the brain in negative ways, too. It's not uncommon for drinkers to experience memory blackouts after one too many, or notice memory loss after drinking heavily and regularly for a long period of time.
Causes of Memory Lapses
Several factors can be the reason behind memory lapses in women going through menopause. But like many other menopausal symptoms, memory lapses are caused largely by hormonal imbalance. Memory lapses can also be a compound of other menopausal symptoms that affect a woman's concentration level and mental retention. Certain risk factors or lifestyle choices may increase women's chances of experiencing memory lapses as well.
Memory lapses are commonly experienced by women undergoing the period leading up to menopause. As a woman approaches menopause, certain hormonal levels in the body decrease. These diminishing levels of hormones, particularly estrogen, have myriad effects on a woman's body and mind.
In the case of memory lapses, estrogen plays a special key role. It has a large effect on the functions of the brain and influences language skills, mood, attention, and a number of other functions, including memory. Estrogen is directly linked to verbal word fluency (the ability to remember names and words). It's no wonder then that as a woman's estrogen levels begin to drop, her memory may suffer.
Although decreases in hormones such as estrogen are the most common cause of memory lapses for women going through menopause, there are other risk factors that could have an effect on the likelihood of experiencing this frustrating symptom.
Excessive amounts of alcohol
Some medications (sleeping pills, antidepressants, blood pressure and heart medications, pain killers, tranquilizers).
Lack of sleep
When to see a doctor
If a woman is experiencing severe memory lapses, where she finds it difficult to recall information she's known for years and routinely used, she should consult a doctor to be checked for the following illnesses associated with memory lapses:
Infections of the brain such as encephalitis or meningitis
Attention deficit disorder (ADD)
Fortunately, at whatever level a woman is experiencing memory lapses, there are solutions.
Click on the following link to learn more about the causes of memory lapses during menopause, or continue reading below to learn more about the treatment options.
As a woman approaches menopause, various changes take place in the body that can cause short term memory loss known as brain fogs. Brain fogs may make it difficult to concentrate and process new information. Though hormones are the primary cause of menopausal memory lapses, other biological, dietary, and environmental factors influence the symptom, too.
Memory lapses are something everyone experiences from time to time, and are usually nothing to worry about. But when memory lapses occur regularly, they may be a problem. Sometimes memory loss can symptomize serious conditions – both physical and emotional – in the body, some of which may come as a surprise.
Memory Lapses Treatment
Fortunately, most of the time memory lapses are not a condition that a woman must live with permanently; treatments are available. It is recommended to begin with the least invasive method and progress up to more drastic treatments if the symptom remains unaffected.
Lifestyle changes. That can be implemented into a woman's life, such as dietary adjustments or a different exercise program. A balanced diet including additions such as omega-3 acids can help a woman to concentrate.
In addition, a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables are important in order to obtain memory-boosting antioxidants and the vitamins B, C, D and E; all important for proper mental function. Mental exercises and games, such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku, have been shown to improve memory. Exercise and proper sleep also go a long way to helping with memory.
Alternative medicine. However, as the primary cause of memory lapses in menopausal women is the natural decline in estrogen that is typical of this age group, the most logical method of defeating this symptom is to address the fundamental hormonal imbalance. Natural supplements can be an easy, safe, and effective treatment option.
Surgical or pharmaceutical. There is a third, most drastic option if the recommended combination of lifestyle changes and natural remedies are not effective enough. Surgical or pharmaceutical options to treat memory lapses exist, though these carry a higher risk of side effects. There are a host of drugs that claim to cure memory problems. If memory lapses are at the level of severity that a woman is still considering this final option, it is wise to speak with a healthcare professional for guidance.
Click on the following link to learn more specifics about the treatments for memory lapses, which begin with lifestyle changes, move onto alternative medicines, and finally, if those options don't seem to help, drugs and surgery.
Menopausal brain fogs are a very real symptom of menopause that – like with other menopause symptoms – can be treated with practical activities and specific lifestyle changes. There are many easy and enjoyable ways to strengthen the cognitive functions and improve memory during perimenopause to prevent the symptom from undermining your confidence.
Memory lapses are a common occurrence in women approaching menopause. Lapses in memory are distressing, and it's easy to jump to drastic self-diagnoses upon noticing them. However, it's important to remember that memory lapses are a biological symptom and, like other menopause symptoms, can be managed and treated.
- Dr. Devi, Gayatri. “Memory Loss, Estrogen, Menopause & Alzheimer's Disease”. The New York Memory Services. www.nymemory.org.
- Dr. Devi, Gayatri; Hahn, Katherine; Massimi Stephen; Zhivotovskaya, Emiliya. Prevalence of memory loss complaints and other symptoms associated with the menopause transition. Gender Medicine, 2005, vol. 2.
- Myers, Catherine E. “Categories of Memory Systems”. Memory Loss & the Brain. www.memorylossonline.com.
- “Memory loss and menopause”. News-Medical.Net. www.news-medical.net.
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