This is how the brain changes during menopause

The so-called menopausal brain is real, new research confirms. This is how women’s brains change during menopause.

Menopause can be associated with other so-called brain fog and memory symptoms. Adobe Stock / AOP

During menopause, women suffer from brain fog, insomnia and mood swings. However, the symptoms are not always thought to be related to menopause.

Menstrual symptoms are associated with decreased estrogen production in the uterus. It causes hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. All of these symptoms can contribute to difficulty with thinking and memory.

Estrogen is important for the female brain because it regulates cognitive functions and the health of nerve cells. Estrogen levels begin to decline during the menopausal years, which can begin after age 40.

Estrogen levels have been studied to have certain effects on cognition: attention, problem solving, learning, and memory.

Studies have found that cognitive symptoms are most pronounced in the menopausal years and in the year after menopause, the year after the last naturally occurring period. Adobe Stock/AOP

Changes in the brain

The Washington Post And Guardian – Journals reveal what’s really going on in women’s brains when menstruation begins.

A neuroscientist gave an interview to the press Lisa Mosconi And her colleagues wanted to study the effects of menstruation with brain studies. She says she noticed how the effects of menopause are ignored in brain imaging. The few studies that have been done have included older women.

Mosconi also wanted to compare brains before and after menopause to detect changes in the brain. According to him, the brain is renewed in a situation where the neurons in the brain, which were once necessary for menstruation and pregnancy, are not needed.

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Studies have found changes in brain structure, nerve connections and energy metabolism.

– Menopause should also be viewed as a neurological phenomenon. Understanding that hot flashes, mood swings, and insomnia are neurological symptoms is increasing all the time.

Further research is needed

A brain scan showed a decrease in gray matter volume in areas of the brain related to focus, attention and memory. Researchers have found that women’s ability to learn and remember decreases during menopause.

– The more hot flashes women have, the worse their memory.

The energy level of the brain also changes. The brain gets its energy, for example, by sending electrical signals to nerve cells from glucose in the bloodstream.

After menopause, the brain doesn’t burn glucose as quickly or efficiently as it used to, says Mosconi.

According to Mosconi, the reduction of critical estrogen can also disrupt the brain’s amygdala, which affects emotional reactions. Hormone levels can also be found in the part of the brain involved in decision-making and attention.

Brain changes may help explain menopause symptoms, he says, though more research is needed.

Brain changes in postmenopausal women have been studied with imaging studies. Adobe Stock / AOP

The brain adapts

It is not known whether the changes in the brain during menopause can be prevented or reversed, but at least some of them appear to be temporary.

When Mosconi and his colleagues examined the participants two years later, for example, gray matter volume recovered in some of the women.

– For most women, the symptoms are temporary, indicating that the brain is adapting to new, Mosconi states.

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According to him, the adaptability of the brain is indicated by the fact that some physical symptoms, such as hot flashes, take their time and gradually fade over time.

How to remove the symptoms?

Menstrual symptoms can be treated, emphasizes Mosconi.

The best is a combination of healthy lifestyles: nutrition, sleep and exercise, as well as medical treatments. In the premenstrual years, birth control pills can ease symptoms. The most effective treatment for true menopausal symptoms is hormone therapy, i.e. estrogen therapy.

– For the majority of women, estrogen can be used safely and effectively. It is undoubtedly a very effective treatment for symptoms.

However, it is still unclear how much hormone therapy helps with cognitive symptoms. However, early research suggests that memory performance recovers when hot flashes are treated. Estrogen may also have a direct effect on the brain’s sleep-regulating centers.

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