'Brain Fog' In Menopause Is Real, Study Suggests

A new study confirms what has long been a common complaint of women going through menopause: memory lapses, also termed "brain fog," is real.

Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center published a study in the journal Menopause that shows that changes in cognition really do occur when a woman is going through menopause.

"If a woman approaching menopause feels she is having memory problems, no one should brush it off or attribute it to a jam-packed schedule," study researcher Miriam Weber, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in a statement.

"She can find comfort in knowing that there are new research findings that support her experience. She can view her experience as normal," she added.

Researchers analyzed the menopausal symptoms and brain functioning of 75 women between ages 40 and 60, who were all either approaching or starting menopause. All the women underwent several tests examining their ability to learn and retain new things, manipulate information, and sustain their attention over a period of time

In addition, the women were surveyed on their menopausal symptoms like difficulty sleeping, hot flashes and depression. Researchers also looked at hormone levels in their blood.

The researchers found that women who had memory complaints were more likely to have issues in certain areas compared to others. For example, women with memory complaints did worse in "working memory" tests -- for example, calculating a tip after a meal -- and focusing attention on a task, like persevering while reading a challenging book.

Researchers also found that the women who reported the memory problems were also more likely to have symptoms of anxiety, problems sleeping and depression.

A small study presented last year at the annual meeting of the Society of Neuroscience suggested that the brains of women who experience brain fog may actually work harder to keep up with mental tasks, the Los Angeles Times reported. That study involved 22 healthy women (aver age 57) who were all post-menopausal.