For most women, the moment they realize they are becoming forgetful is the moment they began searching for effective treatments. Luckily, being one of the most common symptoms of menopause, memory lapses can be tackled with a variety of natural and conventional approaches.
Keep on reading to discover the best approaches to treating memory lapses during menopause to sharpen your cognitive abilities and finally restore your intellectual capabilities.
Three Approaches to Treating Memory Lapses
When treating memory lapses, women can choose from among three levels of treatments: (1) Lifestyle changes, (2) Alternative medicine, and (3) Conventional medicine. They are encouraged to start with the most natural approaches - lifestyle changes and alternative medicine - and move to more risky options only if necessary.
Lifestyle Changes for Memory Lapses
The first stage of memory loss treatment consists of implementing healthier lifestyle practices, which can bring significant improvements, although they do require the most determination and time commitment.
The food a woman eats provides the nutrients needed to synthesize hormones and neurotransmitters for her body to stay healthy and her brain to maintain its executive functions, including memory. A healthy menopausal diet should include good sources of complex carbs, healthy fats, and lean protein that are rich in the following nutrients:
- Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that exert weak estrogenic effects on the body, helping to balance levels of reproductive hormones and treat memory problems alongside other menopause symptoms.
Soy, alfalfa, oats, tomatoes, flax
- Omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of a diet for treating memory loss as they have been shown to enhance memory and improve recall time in aging adults.1
Cold-water fish, walnuts, flax, sachainchi
- B vitamins inadequacies, particularly B12, B9, and B6, may contribute to poor memory and higher risk of dementia in menopausal women.2
Millet, lentils, broccoli, almonds
- Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with faster memory decline and reduced thinking abilities in older women.3
Eggs, cheese, salmon, fortified cereal
Physical activity is a key factor in memory lapses treatment. It not only improves memory by boosting brain's neuroplasticity, but also helps manage weight gain.4 Studies have associated mid-life obesity with a reduction of brain structures in charge of learning and memory, thus leading to reduced cognition.5
Amount: Menopausal women are recommended to get about 150 minutes of low- to moderate-level exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity.6
Type: A good workout to help treat memory lapses should combine aerobic workouts with body strengthening exercises for optimal results. This includes brisk walking, swimming, yoga, or Pilates.
Useful tips: Since there is evidence that women experiencing hot flashes may be more prone to experiencing memory lapses, working in well-ventilated spaces or outdoors to prevent over-heating is highly recommended.7
Precautions: During menopause, women are at a higher risk of osteoporosis and related fractures. As such, it is a good idea to avoid high-impact exercises or injury-prone sports to keep the workouts safe and beneficial.8
Various wholesome habits can help treat memory loss during menopause, promote hormonal balance, lessen mood swings, and keep the body rested and in optimal health. They include the following:
Lowering stress to treat memory lapses is a must as high levels of cortisol may disrupt the brain's ability to recall memories and impair cognitive functions.9 Try meditation, self-affirmations, yoga, or conscious breathing.
Improving sleep patterns can give the brain the rest it needs to maintain its executive functions and significantly boost memory and focus. Sleep disorders are a common causes of memory lapses and forgetfulness.10
Staying mentally active with brain games and crosswords as well as learning new things through repetition and chunking can bring tremendous benefits in focusing attention and improving memory lapses treatment.
Keeping oneself organized with daily planners, to-do lists, and sticky notes can help women maintain their daily routines without flaw and stay on top of their chores.
Quitting excessive alcohol drinking and smoking is a non-negotiable part of memory loss treatment during menopause as both not only disrupt cognition, but also contribute to overall health deterioration.11,12
Alternative Medicine for Memory Lapses
The second stage of memory loss treatment is based on alternative medicine, of which herbal supplements are the most popular option. They are effective, easy to follow, and resolve the root cause of memory lapses, hormonal imbalance.
There are two types of herbal supplements to treat memory problems during menopause: phytoestrogenic and hormone-balancing supplements.
Phytoestrogenic supplements are made from herbs, like dong quai, which contain beneficial compounds called phytoestrogens. When consumed, they mimic the body's estrogen and help balance its levels along with other reproductive hormones for symptom relief, including treating memory lapses.13 However, their long-term use can make the body less capable of producing its own hormones, leading to further imbalance.
Hormone-regulating supplements, like Macafem, do not supply the body with any outside hormones. Instead, they work by nourishing the hormonal glands with nutrients to stimulate their own hormone production.14 This balances the levels of all reproductive hormones, helping treat memory loss and other menopausal ailments. Since hormone-balancing supplements cause virtually no side effects, they are safe for long-term use.
From Nature and Health Magazine, Dr. Chacon says:
"Macafem's nutrients help restore natural hormones in women. Unlike hormone drugs, which are basically resumed in taking synthetic hormones, Macafem acts totally different in your body. It nourishes and stimulates your own natural hormone production by inducing the optimal functioning of the pituitary and endocrine glands." Click on the following link if you want to learn more about Macafem.
A combination of lifestyle changes and herbal supplements is usually the most effective and holistic approach to treating memory loss. In some cases, however, it is necessary to reach for medications for optimal results.
Conventional Medicine for Memory Lapses
The third stage of memory lapses treatment consists of conventional medicine. While effective, it may cause significant side effects. As such, their use should be evaluated on an individual basis to ensure they do not outweigh the benefits.
Conventional memory loss treatment during menopause may consist of medications or psychotherapy, such as:
Women with severe symptoms that negatively affect their life may consider various prescription medications to improve memory. They are as follows:
Cholinesterase inhibitors, which are mainly used in Alzheimer's disease treatment, work by increasing acetylcholine in the brain and may be used to treat memory lapses during menopause.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) contains estrogen, progesterone, or their combination. It used to be the go-to treatment for memory lapses and other menopause symptoms. While HRT can help boost memory and prevent its lapses, its use has been linked to serious side effects and increased health risks, as the following studies have shown. As such, HRT is generally reserved for severe symptoms of the menopausal transition.
In 2019, researchers at Oxford University published results of a comprehensive analysis of worldwide data on HRT and breast cancer. They confirmed the 2002 findings of the Women's Health Initiative, the largest clinical trial on HRT, which were published in JAMA and showed that HRT increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, blood clots, and strokes. Their results, published in The Lancet, also showed that these risks can persist for over a decade after its discontinuation.15,16
Additionally, a number of medications that a woman is already taking might contribute to memory lapses, including those for high blood pressure or overactive bladder. As such, consulting one's doctor is highly recommended to review current medications and help reverse the symptoms.
Because memory lapses may also be indicative of an underlying psychological disorder, such as depression, some women may benefit from psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Caution should be practiced with the use of antidepressants as some may also cause temporary memory lapses.
Since the aforementioned stages of memory lapses treatment are not mutually exclusive, women can employ them in any combination in order to better relieve their symptoms. A growing number of women, however, are finding that combining lifestyle changes and herbal supplements are the best way to boost memory and prevent its decline.
A Safe Way of Treating Memory Lapses
Implementing Lifestyle Changes:
- Eating foods rich in phytoestrogens, omegas, and vitamin D
- Exercising regularly outdoors or in well-ventilated spaces
- Reducing stress through mediation, yoga, and deep breathing
- Staying mentally active with brain games and crosswords
And Taking Herbal Supplements:
- Phytoestrogenic herbal supplements, like dong quai
- Or natural hormone-regulating supplements, like Macafem
- Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology. (2009). Cognitive Changes After Menopause: Influence of Estrogen. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2637911/
- Global Council on Brain Health. (2019). The Real Deal of Brain Health Supplements. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/health/brain_health/2019/06/gcbh-supplements-report-english.doi.10.26419-2Fpia.00094.001.pdf
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2013). 7 Common Causes of Forgetfulness. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/7-common-causes-of-forgetfulness-201302225923
- Mayo Clinic. (2019). Memory loss: When to seek help. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/in-depth/memory-loss/art-20046326
- Mayo Clinic. (2019). Memory loss: 7 tips to improve your memory. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/memory-loss/art-20046518
- Medline Plus. (2017). Memory Loss. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003257.htm
- NHS. (2017). Memory loss (amnesia). Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/memory-loss-amnesia/
- Logo, R. (2007). Treatment of the Postmenopausal Women: Basic and Clinical Aspects. Cambridge, MA: Academic Press. Available through Google Books
- Pacific Brain Health Center. (n.d.). Memory Loss. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://www.pacificneuroscienceinstitute.org/brain-health/conditions-treatment/memory-loss/
- University of Rochester Medical Center. (2012). 'Brain Fog' of Menopause Confirmed. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/3436/brain-fog-of-menopause-confirmed.aspx
- Journal of Alzheimer's Diseases. (2016). Impact of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation of Memory Functions in Healthy Older Adults. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26890759/
- JAMA. (2015). Vitamin D Status and rates of Cognitive Decline in a Multiethnic Cohort of Older Adults. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/2436596
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (2000). B Vitamins, Homocysteine, and Neurocognitive Function in the Elderly. Retrieved May 15, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10681269/
- Frontiers in Medicine. (2019). Is there a preferred mode of exercise of cognition enhancement in older age? Retrieved May 15, 2020 from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmed.2019.00057/full
- Obesity Action Coalition. (2017). Can My Weight Cause Memory Issues? Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://www.obesityaction.org/community/article-library/can-my-weight-cause-memory-issues/
- American Heart Association. (2018). Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults
- Menopause. (2008). Objective Hot Flashes Are Negatively Related to Verbal Memory Performance in Midlife Women. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18562950/
- Journal of Mid-Life Health. (2011). Exercise beyond menopause: Dos and Don'ts. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3296386/
- Integrative Medicine Insights. (2014) Memory Decline in Peri- and Post-menopausal Women: The Potential of Mind-Body Medicine to Improve Cognitive Performance. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4125424/
- Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). How Lack of Sleep Impacts Cognitive Performance and Focus. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-lack-sleep-impacts-cognitive-performance-and-focus
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2001). Cognitive Impairment and Recovery from Alcoholism. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa53.htm
- American Journal of Epidemiology. (2007). Smoking as a Risk Factor for Dementia and Cognitive Decline: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17573335/
- Advances in Therapy. (1998). Clinical Improvement of Memory and other Cognitive Functions by Ginkgo Biloba: Review of Relevant Literature. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10178638/
- Evidence-Based Contemporary Alternative Medicine. (2016). Preservation of Cognitive Function by Lepidium Meyenii (Maca) is Associated with Improvement of Mitochondrial Activity and Upregulation of Autophagy-Related Proteins in Middle-Aged Mouse Cortex. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27648102/
- JAMA. (2002). Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women: principal results from the Women's Health Initiative randomized controlled trial. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12117397
- The Lancet. (2019). Type and timing of menopausal hormone therapy and breast cancer risk: individual participant meta-analysis of the worldwide epidemiological evidence. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(19)31709-X/fulltext