Forgetfulness and trouble recalling certain things are famously common symptoms of getting older. And this is true for both men and women. Yet, owing to the wide range of effects that the menopause can have on how the female body functions in middle age, it’s important to consider how much of an impact the menopause can have on a woman’s chances of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease as they age.
Alzheimer’s is widely recognised as the most common form of dementia and is a medical condition characterised by impaired brain function, substantial memory problems and the reversion to a state in which the completion of the most basic of tasks becomes quite literally impossible.
How is the menopause linked to dementia?
As women account for 65% of dementia cases, many have speculated that this is due to the changes to the brain that occur during the menopause. And it’s certainly common for those going through the menopause to have difficulty with concentration, become more forgetful, experience difficulty when trying to pick up new skills and mislay an object or two. Many women refer to this as “brain fog”. This is due to the significant reduction in levels of oestrogen in a woman’s body at the time of the menopause.
Whilst relatively little is known about what makes people more susceptible to various forms of dementia, there is some evidence to suggest that, as we move through life, oestrogen actively works to protect the brain from harmful dementia-causing proteins as well as increasing the brain’s ability to make more neural connections. The latter is integral to both learning and memory.
This can affect women very differently in the long term, and it’s important to remember that the emergence of cognitive problems in middle age doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re at risk of developing a form of dementia as you get older.
How can this be managed?
The menopause can be an extremely challenging time for women, and it’s hardly surprising that issues with memory or brain function can lead to some women feeling anxious, stressed or depressed about the changes that they are going through. In this instance, it’s always advisable to seek the advice of a medical professional such as a gynaecologist. Mr Francis Gardner has over 25 years of experience in the field of gynaecology and, as such, is extremely sensitive to how much of an impact the menopause and its symptoms can have on your happiness and wellbeing. To find out how he can help you work through this crucial point in your life, please get in touch today.
No. It’s quite common for women who are going through or have gone through, the menopause to encounter a range of issues with memory and brain function. In some cases, worrying about this can cause this symptom to get worse and could affect your ability to concentrate, work and sleep.
It might be surprising to learn that oestrogen can protect the male brain in the same way that it can protect the female brain. The difference here is that, in men, testosterone is converted into oestrogen in the brain, meaning that supplies of this hormone are always in good supply.
The most widely used treatment for a range of symptoms associated with the menopause is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). There are several different types of HRT available and these options will be discussed with you during your consultation with Mr Gardner.