Menopause brain fog is a thing. That’s what my friend Laura told me over breakfast earlier this week. I wasn’t convinced. I thought perhaps she was just being nice, so I Googled it as soon as I got home. She was right. It’s a thing. Thank God for that!

I feel like I’m living in a perpetual state of chaos. How about you?

If you’re peri-menopausal or in the first year of post-menopause, you, like me, may be suffering from menopause brain fog. Not sure what I’m talking about? It’s like this: Everything just feels messy. When I say everything, I don’t just mean the kitchen cupboards, hallway closet, and stacks of unfiled paperwork on my desk. I mean EVERYTHING — especially my head.

It’s as if I’ve suddenly reached capacity. My brain seems unwilling to absorb new content and struggles to access old information. More and more frequently, I find myself standing there, mouth agape, thinking, ‘HUH?’ It reminds of the time some good friends tried to teach me how to play Euchre, but back then I had an excuse. I was blind drunk. Not anymore. Nowadays, just one glass of wine is enough to throw me into a hot flash frenzy. I’m sober. Sober come stupid.

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I can’t even pretend to be intelligent.

I’ve never been one for retaining facts, but I’ve always thought of myself as having ample common sense. Right now, however, sense is highly uncommon. For example, just last week, I wondered, out loud, what food group the chestnut belongs to. “Well, it’s a nut,” said a friend of mine. “Yes, but is it a vegetable?” I asked.

Think that’s bad? What’s even worse is the fact that vegetable was the only food group I could come up with at the time. I racked my brain for the others, but it kept spitting out ‘vegetables, animals and minerals.’ Clearly, instead of opening the nutrition drawer in my brain, I reached for the one containing long-buried memories of my brother performing the Major-General’s song in his high school production of The Pirates of Penzance:

I am the very model of a modern Major-General,
I’ve information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;

I find myself easily overwhelmed.

Tasks that I once undertook effortlessly, like emptying the dishwasher or taking out the garbage, don’t get done without me giving myself a little pep talk. ‘Come on Viv. You’ve got this.’ Even thinking about what’s in my purse stresses me out. Seriously. It’s the weirdest thing. It’s not that I’m disorganized. I can tell you exactly what’s in there right now:

  • wallet
  • car keys
  • lipstick
  • advil
  • iPhone
  • charger
  • vape
  • gum
  • passport (I’m currently on an airplane bound for NY)

It’s not the contents themselves that stress me out; rather, it’s the fact that I know what the contents are. It’s as if a force bigger than me has decided that this information is essential, it must be retained, and apparently I’m the one for the job. Frankly, this feels like way too much responsibility. Also, what if I need to solve a problem later and I can’t because the brain power required has already been allocated to this stupid task?

What causes menopause brain fog?

According to research, menopause brain fog is caused by fluctuating hormones — in particular, estrogen, progesterone, follicle stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone. Apparently, these bad boys play a role in the way we think, and when we’re in the peri- or early stages of menopause, they tend to go a little nuts. Subsequently, so do we!

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According to one menopause cognition study, areas of impact may include:

  • verbal learning
  • memory
  • motor function
  • attention
  • working memory tasks

Are you experiencing memory issues? It’s important to practice due diligence. Learn how to tell the difference between menopause-related memory lapses and dementia.

What can, and should, you do about menopause brain fog?

You could talk to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy but that has a number of side effects. Before going that route,  I’d try and tackle it naturally. Make sure you’re getting enough rest, minimize stress as best you can, try balancing your hormones with natural, herbal remedies. Here are 5 natural ways to beat the fuzzy thinking caused by menopause brain fog.

Based on my own experience, I’d also suggest educating the people you’re close to. While this brain fog of mine is proving to be a source of great comedy for those near and dear to me, it’s unquestionably frustrating. My husband nailed it when he said, ‘it sounds like anxiety to me.’  He’s right. That’s exactly what it feels like.

While understanding the source of your brain fog may be comforting, it doesn’t take away the reality of your experience. If you were suffering from stress or anxiety under any other circumstances, you’d want your loved ones to show some compassion, right? So explain what you’re going through and let them know you could really do with some extra love and care.

If you’re not quite there but close enough, I suggest you buckle up. You’re in for one helluva ride :)

Viv for today xo

Feeling overwhelmed? Treat yourself to a relaxing day at the spa

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