Menopause Can Change Your Brain

As women age, their ovaries stop producing regular amounts of estrogen and progesterone. The age at which this happens varies, but can start as early as the late-30’s or until late-50’s.

Typically, symptoms of menopause include mood swings, sleep problems, and hot flashes. Less commonly reported symptoms are memory issues and the dreaded “brain fog,” because they are written off as a symptom of “getting older.”

Brain fog is the term that lumps together different components that stem from mental fatigue, including memory issues, confusion, attention issues, etc. Often, brain fog is experienced throughout a person’s life, especially during times of fatigue or exhaustion, but many women don’t realize that these things naturally occur during menopause.

How Does Menopause Alter Brain Function?

Research shows a correlation between the fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone, which occurs naturally in menopause, and the symptoms associated with brain fog. Menopause, simply because of the way it changes hormones in the body, also impacts the brain. Interestingly, when hormone levels fluctuate outside of menopause, the same mental slump and weaker memory occur.

When hormones in the brain change, everything else (behavior, body functions, etc.) does too. Blood flow changes to the brain occur in women who have frequent hot flashes, which affect the part of the brain that deals with processing speeds, which then influence word association and memory.

Estrogen is an integral part of the brain’s internal signaling symptom and helps communicate the parts of the brain that need more blood flow. During menopause, your body goes through days where it doesn’t produce enough estrogen, and other days where too much is produced. Your body tries to compensate, resulting in the familiar fatigue and memory loss.

Can Brain Changes in Menopause Be Reversed?

Research published in the journal of Neurology covered a group of 800 women over six years, and throughout the study, the brain function was tested each year: Data showed that as the menopausal cycle went from beginning stages to later stages, cognitive decline worsened.

Fortunately, none of the cognitive effects were permanent, and no structural damage to the brain was found to linger after menopause. An important aspect of the study that will need to be further evaluated is whether the cognitive decline that occurs naturally in old age happens for the same hormonal reasons as menopause.

Natural Ways to Help Alleviate Effects of Menopause

Symptoms of menopause are worsened by lack of sleep and stress, and there are some natural remedies to help ease these effects. One way some find relief is Hormone Replacement Therapy, which comes with mixed reviews and risks, however.

Here are natural lifestyle habits that effect brain function during menopause, and things you can do to help:

  • Brain fog and moodiness are exacerbated by chronic and daily stress, so take a good, long look at how to influence this aspect of your lifestyle, and perhaps seek professional help.
  • Studies by Harvard University sleep experts showed that participants who regularly were a part of organized relaxation groups saw a 30 percent decrease in their symptoms, including hot flashes and depression.
  • Sleep restfully at least 7-8 hours a night. Adults need at least 7-8 hours of good quality sleep to maintain mental sharpness, a healthy weight, and a positive mood.
  • Fuel your body with whole foods, vitamins, and minerals that provide you with more natural energy and will-power, but fewer cravings.
  • Even if you’re tired, get your daily dose of exercise anyway. It provides natural energy, revs “happy” endorphins for your mood, and can help preserve and increase brain function.


If you feel like your brain fog is more than menopause or getting older, there may be another underlying cause. Contact Amen Clinics to help pinpoint and treat memory issues, and their underlying causes.



  1. Yes, obviously, to alleviate symptoms of menopause one must get 7-8 hrs of sleep. And obviously still, this is an effect of menopause and acquiring the required amount of sleep is impossible during this stage in ones life. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s an annoying suggestion. I wish more than anything to sleep.

    Comment by SRC — December 30, 2016 @ 7:24 AM

  2. I was told by my doctor to exercise and push myself. I did and it worked. You can try warming milk up and adding 1 teaspoon of vanilla then add Stevia to sweeten. It tastes delicious and increases serotonin. It puts me to sleep within 30 minutes.

    Comment by Sherri Jonest — January 3, 2017 @ 9:30 AM

  3. How is it impossible, exactly? I found that I was ignoring my body’s signals to go to bed at a reasonable time (sleepiness, e.g.), and that was a bad habit I had acquired. Once I actually got myself to bed — ignoring my wishes to do more than is possible in a day — I usually slept quickly and well. Not saying you don’t have a problem, just suggesting there are different ways of approaching the problem (e.g., not everyone finds warm milk effective). For me, it was dealing with the anxiety of leaving some things unfinished for the day. Good luck.

    Comment by Margaret — January 15, 2017 @ 5:59 PM

  4. Two messages in this post, that “getting older is a drag” and that “cognitive decline is inevitable as we age” are diametrically opposed to Dr. Amen’s messages elsewhere. (I’m going to guess that this post was written by someone in their early 30’s 🙂 — So which is it?

    Comment by Sabine — February 12, 2017 @ 8:26 AM

  5. Diet is EVERYTHING.

    Comment by Allyson — March 2, 2018 @ 4:15 AM

  6. Allyson, Have you had success with diet, and if so, what foods specifically have you left out?

    Comment by Jennifer — March 25, 2019 @ 4:42 PM

  7. Every human is as different as every face is unique . Look around you you won’t find you anywhere but in the mirror , l have ended up in a mental health unit trying to get though menopause to realise they were stabbing in the dark as much as l was . 13 years on unlucky for some I’m still going through it having tried the whole gammit ov lotions potions a pills .
    We need to give more oxygen to menopause maybe walk in centres , no appointments necessary lots ov women have taken their lives or tried and not enough is spoken about as to how it affects our mental health especially if we had problems pryer to the menopause

    Comment by Sue — July 24, 2019 @ 5:27 AM

  8. For the Amen Clinic to write a blog about menopause and the greatly reduced amounts of estrogen and progesterone and not even mention it’s affect on ADHD is puzzling. Have you not done any research into the lack of estrogen on women with ADHD during and after menopause? That is the subject of this blog, and all of the symptoms you discuss are exacerbated with ADHD, leaving women wondering why they lost cognitive function. If you HAVE discovered what sorts of treatments are successful then I would be very interested to learn of your findings, as none of the 5 psychiatrists I have seen for medication management in the past 6 years will even acknowledge this is the case.

    I was not diagnosed with ADHD until 61 yrs of age, 10 long years of being medicated for the false diagnosis of depression and anxiety (very typical diagnosis for women, unlike men), and living in such a massive brain fog that I lost a total of 3 jobs in that time, ruining my professional career.

    There is a fast growing population of women diagnosed AFTER menopause and the lack of scientific study is appalling – but no one in medicine seems to have any interest in helping this population relieve their suffering. My life has been ruined because of this professional irresponsibility.

    Comment by Melissa Bennett — January 10, 2020 @ 8:21 PM

  9. Its interesting when you said that the symptoms of menopause include mood swings, sleep problems, and hot flashes. My mother thinks that she is going through menopause and I want to bring her to a clinic for checkup. Thanks for helping me learn more about menopause and I hope that I can find a good clinic for my mother soon.

    Comment by Mats Wolff — December 12, 2021 @ 7:56 PM

  10. I’m tired of hearing the same old, same old. Diet, exercise, and sleep. I do all of that, but I found that only hormone replacement helped my mood. Going through menopause without it is like asking a man to forgo testosterone for the last 40 years of his life. No man would ever do that. Yet we’re supposed to make do with herbal remedies. Clinics that replenish estrogen in menopausal women are litigated against, and their patients are harassed. I am having that experience now. My doctors (outside of the Amen Clinics) are demanding that I go through menopause, and they have already contacted the Amen Clinics with their demands. So in a way, I’m getting blacklisted for being on HRT.

    Comment by Sue — June 1, 2022 @ 11:12 AM

  11. Bioidentcal hormones have helped me immensely. Dr. Lindsey Berkson is a hormone specialist who has written books and teaches about the many benefits of bioidentical hormones.

    Comment by Kathy Belair — November 3, 2023 @ 11:22 AM

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