Perimenopause Brain Fog: Here’s The Real Deal

July 17, 2020.

Do you ever feel like you can’t put it all together? Or perhaps you worry that your memory is failing? You are not alone, Babe. More than 60% of women in midlife report they experience undesirable changes in their memory and cognition. Some women even worry they have early onset of Alzheimer’s. However, if you are starting to notice changes in your menstrual cycle, you may be experiencing yet another pain in the a$$ symptom of perimenopause: brain fog.

What Is Perimenopause Brain Fog?

Brain fog is one of the 34 symptoms of perimenopause. Although it is not considered a medical condition, researchers and physicians largely agree that perimenopause brain fog is a form of cognitive dysfunction that affects women transitioning into menopause. Women with perimenopause brain fog report they experience the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble focusing
  • Lack of mental clarity

The above symptoms can interfere with your everyday life. From grocery shopping or trying to hold a conversation, to performing at work or learning new tasks, women report that brain fog infiltrates their life.

While many women experience brain fog during perimenopause, studies indicate that symptoms of brain fog improve in late menopause. One study found that women in early menopause scored significantly worse on tests that evaluated memory, verbal learning, attention, and following commands compared to women in late menopause. Although you may feel like you are living in a daze or functioning at a suboptimal level, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

What Is Brain Fog Like?

Many people experience brain fog at different points in their lives. Some people find themselves with brain fog during periods of heightened stress, such as college finals or large work projects. Indeed, many women who have had children may recall a brain fog that occurs during pregnancy and the postpartum period. People describe brain fog as:

  • Lacking sharp memory or focus
  • Inability to think clearly
  • Living in a cloud
  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Constantly feeling hungover
  • A fog hovering between their brain and the outside world
  • Thinking through mud

What Causes Brain Fog?

During perimenopause, your hormones fluctuate wildly as your body transitions into its non-reproductive phase. Estrogen, progesterone, follicular stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH) are your reproductive hormones. These hormones affect many different systems in your body, including your brain. Not only do these hormones affect your cognition and memory, but they can also negatively impact your mood. Furthermore, some symptoms of perimenopause, such as sleep dysfunction and hot flashes, also contribute to brain fog.

There are other causes that may contribute to perimenopause brain fog:

  • Stress – Chronic stress has numerous negative effects on people. From blood pressure issues to a weakened immune system and depression, stress can lead to memory issues, weak concentration, and poor cognitive functioning.
  • Medication – Some medications can cause symptoms of brain fog. Check with your provider if you are suspicious that a medication may be causing your symptoms.
  • Diet – Certain nutrient deficiencies can lead to brain fog, including vitamin B-12. Furthermore, eating foods that you are allergic or sensitive too may impact your mental clarity.
  • Poor Sleep Lack of sleep can cause brain fog in anyone. However, women in perimenopause are more subject to poor sleep due to night sweats and difficulty sleeping during this transition.
  • Chronic Illness – People suffering from chronic illness, such as thyroid conditions, anemia, and autoimmune diseases report living with brain fog. This may be due to the diseases themselves, as well as side effects from treatment.

Just A Head’s Up

It is important to note that while brain fog is a common symptom in perimenopause, the symptoms are also similar early symptoms of dementia and Alzheimers. Although those diseases rarely impact individuals in midlife when perimenopause starts, you should consult your doctor if you have a family history of early-onset dementia or Alzheimer’s. Similarly, it is important to talk with your doctor if you find your brain fog severely impacting your overall functioning. Unlike perimenopause brain fog, dementia and Alzheimer’s are diseases that get progressively worse over time.

If you don’t feel like reading today, check out this brain fog explanation:

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment.

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Julia Walker
perry expert Julia (RN, BSN, BA) is a registered nurse based in Colorado. Julia's nursing background in women’s health has ranged from neonatal and postpartum care to labor and delivery, to outpatient gynecological medicine for both adolescent and adult populations. She specializes in helping women optimize their health during perimenopause and beyond.

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