Beating Brain Fog in Perimenopause: Causes and Coping Strategies

Woman Holding Glasses Touching Hand To Forehead

Beating Brain Fog in Perimenopause: Causes and Coping Strategies

Woman Holding Glasses Touching Hand To Forehead

Are you in your late 30s or 40s and have recently felt like your brain is operating in a haze, struggling to recall words or focus on tasks? If so, you’re not alone. Many women experience what is commonly referred to as “brain fog” during perimenopause, a puzzling and worrisome symptom that can leave you feeling like you’ve misplaced your brain along with your glasses (they’re on your head).

Before diving into the mysteries of brain fog, let’s quickly revisit what perimenopause is. Perimenopause is the transitional period leading up to menopause, which typically begins in the late 30s or early 40s. It’s a phase marked by hormonal fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels, and it’s often accompanied by various symptoms, one of which is brain fog.

So, what exactly is this brain fog, and why does it make you feel like you’re walking through a mental haze? It’s a cognitive symptom that can feel like:

– Forgetfulness
– Difficulty concentrating
– Slower thinking
– Fuzzy memory
– Difficulty multitasking
– Word-finding difficulties
– Overall mental fuzziness

These symptoms can be incredibly frustrating and impact various aspects of your life, from work to personal relationships, often leaving you second-guessing yourself and feeling less confident.

The Hormonal Connection

The root cause of perimenopausal brain fog lies in the hormonal fluctuations that are typical during this phase. Estrogen, a hormone that plays a significant role in brain function, experiences an immense and unpredictable fluctuation which can affect neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood and cognitive function. Additionally, it can lead to changes in blood flow to the brain, affecting cognitive performance.[1]

While hormonal changes are a leading culprit, other factors can contribute to brain fog during perimenopause, including sleep disturbances and stress. [2] Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns are common during this time, and poor sleep, unsurprisingly can exacerbate brain fog symptoms. The stress of perimenopausal symptoms or life, in general, can add to the brain fog and can exacerbate most perimenopausal symptoms…a vicious cycle on all accounts!

Wait, there’s good news!

The good news is that brain fog during perimenopause is temporary. As your body adjusts to new hormone levels, cognitive function often stabilizes. In the meantime, there are things you can do to help manage these symptoms:

– Prioritize sleep and establish a healthy sleep routine.
– Engage in regular physical activity, which can improve mood and cognitive function.
– Manage stress through relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga.
– Maintain a well-balanced diet rich in brain-boosting nutrients.

If you’re looking for a holistic approach to managing your changing hormones in perimenopause and menopause, I help women navigate both the physical and emotional aspects of this hormonal shift so you can go from feeling exhausted, foggy, and irritable to clear, confident, and energized, in a way you can keep up with.

Let’s Chat!


[1] Research source: Santoro, N., Epperson, C. N., & Mathews, S. B. (2015). Menopausal symptoms and their management. Journal of Women’s Health, 24(5), 381-388.*
[2] Research source: Halbreich, U., & Kahn, L. S. (2001). Role of estrogen in the etiology and treatment of mood disorders. CNS Drugs, 15(10), 797-817.*
[3] Politi, M. C., Yoon, S., Magaziner, J., & Dey, A. K. (2019). Stress-related symptoms in women complaining of perimenopausal sleep disturbance: A pragmatic approach to assessment. Menopause, 26(2), 184-190.*

Written by Allison Poole, PT, MPT, WHC

Allison takes a modern approach to women's hormone and pelvic health by taking the hard work and confusion out of caring for your body. She combines her 20 years of clinical expertise, compassion and personal experience to help women navigate perimenopause and menopause with ease.

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