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How does Menopause affect me in the LONG RUN: The Brain

Updated: May 15, 2023

Medically reviewed by Dr. Jessherin Sidhu, Medical Director, Insync Medical, Singapore.

Cartoon woman watering her head filled with flowers
How Does Menopause Affect Me in The Long Run: The Brain

Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman's menstrual cycles and fertility, usually occurring in their late 40s or early 50s. It is associated with hormonal changes, particularly a decline in estrogen levels. These hormonal fluctuations can have various effects on the brain, including both cognitive and emotional changes. It is important to note that the experience of menopause is highly individual and not all women will experience the same effects to the same degree. Ever wonder, "how does menopause affect me in the LONG RUN?"


So... how does menopause affect me? Long-term effects of menopause on the brain may include:

  • Cognitive changes: Some women may experience mild cognitive impairments, such as difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, or slower processing speed. These changes are typically subtle and may not significantly impact daily functioning.

  • Mood changes: Menopause can cause mood fluctuations, such as irritability, anxiety, and depression. These mood changes are usually temporary but can persist in some cases.

  • Sleep disturbances: Hot flashes and night sweats can disrupt sleep, leading to insomnia. Poor sleep quality can negatively impact brain health and cognitive function over time.

  • Increased risk of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias: Some research suggests that the decline in estrogen levels during menopause may increase a woman's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. However, this relationship is complex and not fully understood.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and holistic approaches like aromatherapy can also be employed to prevent or manage the effects of menopause on the brain. These approaches focus on maintaining balance and overall well-being through natural remedies and activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction. Here are some additional strategies to consider:

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine: TCM involves various therapies such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, moxibustion, and tai chi to help balance the body's energy (Qi) and maintain overall health. Some women find relief from menopausal symptoms through acupuncture, which can help regulate hormonal fluctuations and promote relaxation. Consult with a qualified TCM practitioner to develop a personalized treatment plan.

  • Aromatherapy: Essential oils can be used to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve mood. Some oils, like lavender, chamomile, and clary sage, are known for their calming and balancing properties, which may help alleviate menopausal symptoms. Use a diffuser, add a few drops to a warm bath, or dilute the oils in a carrier oil for a relaxing massage. Always follow proper safety guidelines when using essential oils.

  • Building terrariums: Engaging in creative and calming hobbies like building terrariums can provide a soothing and therapeutic outlet for stress reduction. The process of creating a miniature ecosystem can foster a sense of accomplishment, relaxation, and connection with nature, which may help improve mood and cognitive function.

  • Mind-body practices: Techniques such as yoga, tai chi, and qigong can help promote relaxation, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being. These practices combine gentle physical movements, breath control, and meditation, which can help support brain health and alleviate menopausal symptoms.

  • Herbal supplements: Some herbal supplements, such as black cohosh, red clover, and soy isoflavones, are believed to help alleviate menopausal symptoms. However, the efficacy and safety of these supplements can vary, and it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any supplement regimen.

  • Massage therapy: Regular massage sessions can help promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve mood. Consider incorporating massage therapy into your self-care routine to help manage menopausal symptoms and support overall brain health.

  • Guided imagery and visualization: These techniques involve using the power of the imagination to create a calming, peaceful environment in your mind. Practicing guided imagery and visualization can help reduce stress, improve sleep, and promote relaxation, which can benefit brain health during menopause.

Remember that the effectiveness of these approaches may vary from person to person. Always consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating any new therapies or treatments into your routine to ensure they are appropriate and safe for your individual needs.


Important Notes:

This article is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as medical advice. Always consult a medical professional for specific advice on your health.

 

References:

National Institute on Aging. (n.d.). Menopause. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/menopause

The North American Menopause Society. (n.d.). https://www.menopause.org/

Harvard Health Publishing. (2020, January). Menopause and the mind. Harvard Medical School. https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/menopause-and-the-mind

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2021, July 8). Menopause. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/menopause

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. (2021, March 22). Black Cohosh: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/BlackCohosh-HealthProfessional/


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