Why Do We Experience Memory Loss with Midlife Changes?
Hormone change brings about a rather embarrassing and frustrating symptom common to women that we call plain ole “memory loss.” Many women joke about this saying they are “getting old,” and seem to accept this as normal expected changes in life.
Unfortunately, as our hormones decline, we do have increased “brain fog” and have increasing difficulty with focusing, concentrating, and remembering simple tasks that we once handled easily and quickly. This wouldn’t be so bad if we were sitting in our rockers and ready to watch the world go by. But we aren’t. We are still in the prime of our lives. And being slowed by progressive memory challenges can be problematic.
Most of us are still working and desiring advances in our careers, and we are competing with younger, faster and clearer-thinking women who are coming up the ranks. As much as we offer maturity, wisdom and experience
to our employers, we also need all the help we can get to stay competitive with younger, faster-thinking women.
Brain fog, or plain ole memory loss, is not well understood; however, we do know that Estrogen is very active in our brain. It works in the areas of the brain that control memory, organization and communication. Women are generally very good communicators; however, as our Estrogen declines, coming up with the right words becomes more challenging. It is as if our vocabulary and knowledge base just decline.
Organizing our day also becomes more challenging, and projects become more difficult to complete as quickly as we once accomplished them. This challenge comes on slowly and many women don’t recognize it happening until it seems to suddenly appear. Some women secretly worry they may be developing early signs of dementia.
But it is not just about Estrogen alone. Progesterone and Testosterone are also important for our memory. Progesterone decline affects our sleep. And it is well
documented that lack of sleep is detrimental to our memory. In addition to this, recent research has shown Testosterone supplementation in women improved both verbal learning and memory in postmenopausal women.
(1) The same results have been shown in multiple studies in men as well.
(2) It is important to understand that the “gold standard” for investigating hormone effects on memory are studies such as these quoted above, and many more similar to them. These studies were specifically designed to investigate the effects of Estrogen and Testosterone on memory. When studies are designed for purposes other than memory, and are only later reviewed by investigators to assess a “potential relationship” between hormone levels and memory, the results are unreliable and misinforming.
The bottom line is that many studies have been done to specifically look at Estrogen and Testosterone supplementation in both men and women and their direct effects on memory, and many results have been positive for improved cognitive function.
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