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Menopause is a natural biological process that occurs in women as they age, typically between the ages of 45 and 55. It marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years and is characterized by the cessation of menstrual periods. During menopause, there are significant hormonal changes in the body, particularly a decline in the production of estrogen.

Neurology professor Lisa Mosconi has conducted research on the impact of menopause on the brain. In her book titled “The Menopause Brain,” she explores the neurological symptoms associated with menopause, the potential cognitive changes that can occur, and the available options for menopause care that includes the brain.

According to Mosconi, menopause affects not only the body but also the brain. The brain is intricately connected to the ovaries and responds to the hormones they produce. As estrogen levels fluctuate during menopause, it can lead to various brain-related symptoms such as sleep difficulties, low mood, cognitive issues, and hot flashes. These symptoms are most intense during late perimenopause (when periods are skipped for more than six months) and early postmenopause.

Mosconi suggests that menopause can be seen as a “renovation project on the brain.” As the brain adjusts to the changes in hormone levels, it undergoes structural, connectivity, and energy production changes. Some neuronal connections that were linked to the ovaries are no longer needed and can be discarded, leading to brain changes and potential vulnerabilities. However, these changes also allow the brain to rewire itself, enabling women to enter the next phase of life with increased emotional control, self-confidence, and empathy.

Regarding hormone replacement therapy (HRT), Mosconi explains that it can be a viable option for many women experiencing menopausal symptoms. HRT involves supplementing the body with hormones like estrogen to alleviate symptoms. Recent guidelines have considered HRT to be generally safe for healthy women under 60 or within 10 years of their last period. However, it may not be recommended for women with a personal history of breast cancer due to concerns about recurrence. HRT is primarily used for hot flashes but is also being investigated for its potential benefits in managing other brain-related symptoms like disturbed sleep and mild depressive symptoms.

There is a link between menopause and an increased vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease. Mosconi’s research suggests that red flags for Alzheimer’s may appear in the brain during the menopause transition, particularly for women with a predisposition to the disease. However, taking HRT solely to prevent Alzheimer’s is not currently recommended, and more research is needed in this area.

Mosconi emphasizes the importance of lifestyle factors in managing menopause symptoms. A balanced diet focusing on whole foods, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, stress reduction, and avoiding toxins like smoking are all recommended for hormonal health during menopause.

If you’re someone navigating this challenging and overwhelming journey and are seeking compassionate support and guidance to uplift and empower you then it’s important to find someone with expertise in the field, empathy and understanding of your situation, tailors support to guide your journey and last but most importantly someone who provides a holistic approach to menopause management that encompasses not only the physical symptoms but also the emotional and spiritual aspects.

As a seasoned counsellor with extensive knowledge and experience in women’s health, who specialises in supporting women during their menopause journey. I stay up to date with the latest research, treatments, and holistic approaches to provide you with the most comprehensive guidance and will create a safe and non-judgmental space where you can freely express yourself, knowing that you’ll be heard and understood.

Monisha Dadlani & AM Team

MsC., MoC. Member of: ACA, BACP

Please refer to the AM articles page for Elise and the AM Team articles.

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.