Friday, June 28, 2024

The link between menopause and brain health is a popular topic lately. At A Mind For All Seasons, we've been helping women navigate these changes and challenges while focusing on balancing hormones and improving their cognitive state for nearly a decade. By combining our team's experience and knowledge with recent research, we address the ways in which the hormonal changes that occur during menopause can effect brain function and influence the individual's risk of neurodegenerative diseases. 

​A significant phase in a woman's life, menopause brings a variety of hormonal changes including the decline of estrogen and progesterone. While familiar terms, many don't fully understand the vital role of these particular hormones, which are essential for reproduction. Produced in the ovaries, estrogen and progesterone impact sexuality and fertility, influencing puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and more. Working with other hormones, these 'chemical messengers' regulate the systems and organs within our bodies. Estrogen has many important jobs and is needed to help bones grow correctly, balance mood, and even enhances brain function. Progesterone is the hormone that prepares the uterus prior to pregnancy and is also present while the fetus is growing. For so long, these hormones have been thought of as being vital only for reproductive and sexual health, but we are seeing a turning point as more physicians, providers, and patients recognize that they are also necessary due to their impact on behavioral health, the cardiovascular system, bone structure, and cognitive function. 

​Memory lapses, difficulty concentrating, and an overall sense of mental fogginess are all common experiences during menopause and are due to the decrease in estrogen. Along with the aforementioned roles of this vital hormone, estrogen also assists with synaptic health, or the electric signals between nerve cells. Neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to reorganize its networks and function differently, is also diminished when estrogen levels decrease. Another negative response to hormone imbalance is the loss of support required for the growth of neurons, or neurogenesis, a  process that is explained in length in this article by The Queensland Brain Institute. Synapses, neuroplasticity, and neurogenesis are all essential when it comes to protecting and promoting cognitive health and, when they decline, so does brain function. 

​Probably the most well-known side effects of menopause are referred to as mood swings and hot flashes. A woman's emotional well-being can be impacted due to the fact that decreased estrogen has been shown to increase depression, anxiety, and mood swings because of the influence estrogen has on serotonin and dopamine, both of which are neurotransmitters which also effect digestion, metabolism, sleep, and more. We all know how important sleep is, both mentally and physically, and menopause can wreak havoc on a woman's sleep patterns by causing insomnia, night sweats, and overall disruption. When we don't sleep well, our memory and cognitive function are impacted while we are more susceptible to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. 

Hormone Replacement Therapy is a great asset when searching for a solution to both cognitive and emotional symptoms of menopause. Discussing both the benefits and the risks with a healthcare provider is important in determining if this is the best course of action for each individual, yet the request for Hormone Replacement Therapy should not be discouraged but should be carefully considered. 

Additional actions in reducing the negative impact menopause can have on the brain include consistent physical activity, balanced nutrition, stress management, quality sleep, and challenging yourself mentally. You'll find that implementing these 5 strategies into your every day life will have a positive impact on all other aspects of your life. When we exercise regularly, this can help with relieving stress and improving sleep. Eating foods that provide essential nutrients will help us feel better and think clearer,. By challenging ourselves mentally, we promote neuroplasticity and cognitive resilience. Isn't it amazing to see how they all work together? 

Whether considering hormone therapy, incorporating lifestyle changes, or both, it is vital to be informed about options when it comes to addressing concerns regarding menopause. When we take into account the effects this change can have on cognitive development as well as increased risk for diseases like Alzheimer's, it's important to be empowered as decisions are made regarding treatment.

There is hope, and you don't have to do it alone. 

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DISCLAIMER: The programs, coaching, information and education from A Mind For All Seasons, LLC offer a comprehensive approach for cognitive enhancement and may offer hope of slowing or halting cognitive decline or improving mental health, BUT THERE IS NO GUARANTEE OF IMPROVEMENT OR SUCCESS, and A Mind For All Seasons, LLC makes no such warrantee. THE STATEMENTS ON THIS SITE HAVE NOT BEEN VERIFIED OR APPROVED BY THE FDA FOR TREATING ANY SPECIFIC ILLNESS OR FOR THE PURPOSE OF SLOWING THE COGNITIVE DECLINE OF DEMENTIA. Rather, they represent our application of the recommendations from physicians and experts who work with and conduct research for patients in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, brain injuries, mental health challenges, or other forms of cognitive dysfunction.

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