Memory lapses are real in menopause

By Shayna Brouker • Published: June 22nd, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Losing keys, forgetting birthdays and unable to remember just why you walked into the room in the first place? It could be plain old forgetfulness or a “senior” moment, but new research shows women may be able blame it on the female brain. Add “brain fog” to the list of womanly woes associated with menopause, including hot flashes and temper flares.

In a study published in the journal Menopause, researchers tested various aspects of thinking and memory in women on the verge of menopause. They found that women who reported memory complaints performed worse on tests measuring working memory. That’s the ability to take in new information and manipulate it, like calculating the tip at a restaurant.

But on a positive note, the study didn’t find much proof of problems with storing and recalling information, a trait common in age-related memory loss. In fact, menopausal women are much better than older people at taking note of and evaluating their memory problems — probably because they are already so acutely aware of all the other changes taking place in their bodies.

Menopausal women with memory problems should minimize distractions and avoid multitasking, especially when trying to absorb new information. Some other tricks to boost brainpower and memory include sticking to a routine and completing tasks in the same order each time you do them. To remember a person’s name, repeat it out loud or in your head after meeting them.

Also, always store items like keys and remote controls in the same place. Employ lists, notes and others’ memories to help you remember tasks and to-dos. Reducing your stress, which debilitates memory, can help too. Make sense of numbers to help memorize them, like making your PIN number your kid’s birthday.

Just don’t forget their birthday — even menopause can’t excuse that mistake.