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Menopause

A Doctor’s Advice: ‘Why Am I Struggling To Stay Alert?’

Learn how to manage this menopausal symptom.

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Brain fog is a menopausal symptom that can turn simple tasks into a hassle. This symptom often causes you to forget things, have difficulty concentrating, and be unable to solve problems. So, if you easily lose your train of thought or frequently misplace your keys, brain fog might be to blame. The good news is, like other menopause symptoms including hot flashes and blue moods, brain fog is manageable. In fact, making small lifestyle tweaks does wonders for protecting your brain health during menopause. A First for Women reader experiencing these symptoms asked our expert, Dr. Barbara DePree, for advice. Here’s what she had to say.

How Menopause Triggers Brain Fog

Q: Lately, I’ve struggled to stay focused. I’m even forgetting names of longtime friends! I’m 47. Why is this happening?

A: You’re not alone. A 2021 review of studies noted that brain fog affects a significant amount of menopausal women. Why? Estrogen helps metabolize brain-fueling glucose, so overall brain function can wane when estrogen levels decline. But don’t be alarmed; the fog will clear as your brain adapts to changing hormone levels.

In the meantime, targeted lifestyle strategies — like prioritizing sleep and walking for 30 minutes a day as often as possible — can protect your brain. Although more research is needed, supplements like mango leaf extract (which is found in Life Extension Brain Fog Relief) may also improve focus for some. A small 2020 study looked at the brain short-term effects of taking mango leaf extract. This study involved 70 adults between the ages of 18 and 45 who were assigned to take 300 milligrams of mango leaf extract supplements or a placebo. Researchers found significant improvements in brain function, activity, and reaction time for up to six hours in the mango leaf extract group as opposed to the placebo group.

Meet Our Expert

Barbara DePree, MD, is a gynecologist in private practice and director of Women’s Midlife Services at Michigan’s Holland Hospital. A Certified Menopause Practitioner, she is the founder of MiddlesexMD.com, an educational resource for women’s sexual health in perimenopause and beyond. To ask her a question, send an email to health@firstforwomen.com.

For more on menopause, read these stories:

Understanding Menopause: Age, Symptoms, and Treatment

Menopause Stigma Is Real — A Gynecologist Shares Her Tips for Fighting It

Why Menopause Causes Anxiety and Depression (And What You Can Do About It)

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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