Concentration and memory decline during menopause
When you reach the age called menopause, you may feel depressed, saying, "I've been having trouble concentrating and remembering lately, and I'm making trivial mistakes that I've never made before." Everyone around you seems to be lively, and it can be difficult to find someone you can talk to.
In this article, we will introduce the causes of decreased concentration and memory during menopause and three ways to deal with it in your daily life. We also introduce Chinese herbal medicines that are often used for troublesome symptoms of menopause in the field of gynecology.
It is possible to calmly accept the changes in your age and body, and take measures so that you can work more positively than ever before.
Find out in this article
- Causes of poor concentration due to menopause
- 3 ways to deal with poor concentration with menopause
- Chinese herbal medicine used for poor concentration associated with menopause
Concentration and memory decline associated with menopause
Menopause is defined as ``the five years before and after menopause'', and in the case of Japanese people, the age of about 45 to 55 is called menopause. Symptoms of menopause can be broadly classified into four categories:
- Psychiatric symptoms: anxiety, irritability, etc.
- Vasomotor symptoms: hot flashes, hot flashes, etc.
- Physical symptoms: headache, gastrointestinal upset, etc.
- Genitourinary symptoms: vaginal dryness, urinary incontinence, etc.
Menopause-related declines in concentration and judgment are among the symptoms listed above as psychiatric symptoms1).
And there are two characteristics of the decline in concentration in menopause. One is that there are large individual differences in the presence or absence of symptoms and the degree of symptoms. The other is that when the female hormone (estrogen) level stabilizes at a low level after menopause, about 80% of women will naturally experience symptom relief 2).
It is true that some people have almost no symptoms, while others have symptoms that make it difficult for them to carry out their daily activities. For people with symptoms such as poor concentration, headaches, and irritability, waiting for the symptoms to go away on their own after menopause can be very difficult.
Causes of poor concentration during menopause
The reason why concentration declines during menopause is that the autonomic nervous system is affected by fluctuations in the female hormone estrogen 2).
Female hormones such as estrogen are normally released from the ovaries. However, the ovaries do not release estrogen on their own. A place in the brain called the hypothalamus senses the amount of estrogen in the body, and on command from the hypothalamus the ovaries release estrogen.
During menopause, ovarian function declines and estrogen levels also decline. Then the hypothalamus increases stimulation to the ovaries, saying, "Send more estrogen!" Then, the ovaries secrete a large amount of estrogen in response to stimulation from the brain, and this time the brain mistakenly believes that estrogen is not enough, and the secretion drops sharply. This estrogen roller coaster is what causes the many symptoms of menopause.
The hypothalamus also contains the autonomic nerve center that controls concentration and judgment. Autonomic nerves are affected by an imbalance in the amount of estrogen released from the ovaries and the commands from the hypothalamus. For this reason , when menopause approaches, symptoms such as decreased ability to concentrate and judgment appear due to fluctuations in female hormones.
How to deal with the loss of concentration associated with menopause
The decline in concentration associated with menopause can be dealt with by "reviewing diet, exercise habits, and sleep ." You may be unknowingly living a life that causes the loss of concentration that comes with menopause. Why do diet, exercise, and sleep improve poor concentration during menopause? What habits should we change? I will explain in detail.
review the diet
Eating too much processed food can lead to poor concentration. Conversely, there is also the fact that menopausal symptoms are less likely to appear if you eat a lot of vegetables3).
A 2022 paper investigating the relationship between postmenopausal women's dietary habits and menopausal symptoms found that people who consumed more processed foods had greater declines in concentration and memory. . At the same time, it has been reported that women who consume more vegetables are less likely to experience menopausal symptoms and have a higher quality of life (QOL)3).
Processed foods include not only sweet buns, prepared breads, and sweets, but also sugar-containing beverages, meat products such as sausages, and cooked foods.
In other words , in order to deal with the decline in concentration associated with menopause, instead of relying only on lunch boxes and side dishes, it is better to review meals with as many vegetables as possible .
review exercise habits
People who spend a lot of time sitting due to desk work, etc. have poor sleep quality and tend to be insomnia4). It is easy to imagine that sleep deprivation leads to a decline in concentration.
The important thing in reviewing exercise habits is not to exercise blindly, but to exercise with knowledge about menopause. Studies in Japan and overseas have shown that ``exercising after acquiring knowledge about menopause improves irritability and other symptoms peculiar to menopause''5).
As a specific exercise habit, it is ideal to do "exercise that makes you breathe and sweat for 60 minutes every week". For example , we recommend exercises that are easy to continue, such as light strength training, radio calisthenics, and walking .
However, for those who have never exercised before, doing even light exercise for 60 minutes a week is a high hurdle. First of all, just 10 minutes is enough in your daily life, so try to move your body more than usual.
It is a good idea to keep in mind to naturally acquire the “habit of moving your body even a little” every day within a reasonable range.
review your sleep
In reviewing sleep, I will try to stop staying up late and secure a solid sleep time. Ideally, you should be asleep between midnight and 6am .
According to an experiment conducted in Japan, when comparing a group that slept 6 hours from midnight to 6:00 a.m. with a group that slept 3 hours from 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m., Results have shown that there was a difference in arousal levels6).
The group that slept 3 hours was less alert during work than the group that slept 6 hours at any time of the day.
In terms of the subjects themselves, the results showed that the sleepiness, discomfort, and dullness were greater in the group that slept for 3 hours than in the group that slept for 6 hours.
During menopause, many people worry that they can't fall asleep. This is because the strong light emitted from smartphones and computer screens causes the brain to misunderstand that it is daytime and wakes up.
First of all, set the time to get into the futon and the time to wake up to create a sleep rhythm. It is also a good idea to avoid alcohol and caffeine in the evening and prepare for sleep by switching to indirect lighting in the living room before going to bed.
Kampo is also an option for menopausal symptoms
In Kampo, there are Kampo medicines that are often used in gynecology so that they are called "the three major gynecological prescriptions." The following three herbal medicines are commonly prescribed for menopausal symptoms1).
- Tokishakuyakusan: For those who are relatively weak, sensitive to cold and tend to be anemic.
- Kamishoyosan: For those who are relatively frail and get tired easily, and complain of mental symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia.
- Keishibukuryogan: For those with moderate or higher physical strength who tend to get hot flashes and complain of tenderness in the lower abdomen.
Kampo has its own unique concept of "proof" and "ki, blood, and water", and it is difficult for amateurs to find a Kampo medicine that suits them. It is important to consult a doctor or pharmacist who is familiar with Kampo and try it out to find the Kampo that suits you.
However , Kampo used in menopause does not feel immediate effect. Continue taking this medicine for at least 2 weeks and see if there is any change in your mood or physical condition.
Kampo is a recommended option for those who want to improve their lifestyle habits and slowly restore balance from the inside.
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Also read the following articles
Introducing recommended herbal medicines for menopause
Menopause has many symptoms, such as hot flashes and fatigue. Symptoms are broadly classified into four categories (psychiatric symptoms, vasomotor symptoms, physical symptoms, and genitourinary symptoms) .
For those who have trouble with daily life or work due to a decline in concentration, review "diet, exercise, and sleep" to deal with the decline in concentration.
Eat less processed foods and sugary drinks, and eat more vegetables. Exercise should begin by minimizing the amount of time you spend sitting during the day. If you don't have a habit of exercising, 10 minutes more than now is enough, so please start by making a habit of moving your body by walking or cleaning.
If you stay up late, you will lose concentration and work efficiency for the whole day the next day. Adjust your sleep rhythm and aim for a good night's sleep from midnight to 6 hours every day.
Chinese herbal medicine is also recommended for those who want to slowly change their constitution and deal with the decline in concentration during menopause.
The symptoms of menopause are very painful, but in fact, there are various measures that can be taken in everyday life. Start where you can without difficulty, and you will be able to live a calm and lively life while coping well with the changes in your body.
1) Tomoki Hashiguchi and Takashi Mutoh. Perspectives on cognitive and behavioral therapy for menopausal symptoms.2017 http://pscenter.doshisha.ac.jp/journal/PDF/Vol7/pp49-.pdf
2) Department of Psychiatry , Showa University School of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Showa University School of Medicine. /_pdf/-char/ja#:~:text=%E4%B8%80%E6%96%B9%E3%81%A7%EF%BC%8C%E6%9B%B4%E5%B9%B4% E6%9C%9F%E5%A4%96%E6%9D%A5%E3%82%92,%E3%82%92%E8%A1%8C%E3%81%86%E5%BF%85%E8 %A6%81%E3%81%8C%E3%81%82%E3%82%8B%EF%BC%8E
3) Noll PRES, et al. Life habits of postmenopausal women: Association of menopause symptom intensity and food consumption by degree of food processing. 2022 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35033227/
4) Creasy SA, et al. Higher amounts of sedentary time are associated with short sleep duration and poor sleep quality in postmenopausal women. 2019 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30994175/
5) Kiyoko Miyauchi, Yumiko Sakuma, Chifumi Sato. Literature review on health education for menopausal women over the past 10 years.2009 https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/kenkokyoiku/17/1/17_1_3/ _pdf/-char/ja
6) Akihiko Seo. Effect of sleep time on cognitive and motor functions throughout the next day. 2008 https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/ithc/3/2/3_2_96/_pdf