No, you aren’t going crazy. For women experiencing menopause, those memory lapses and times where you just can’t focus or concentrate, simply come with the menopausal territory, a new Harvard study has found. There is really something going on in the brain.
Previous studies found that up to 60 percent of women report memory issues as they go through menopause. This new report, published in the Journal for Neuroscience, sheds some light on what is happening in the brain during those hormonal shifts.
The research team studied 200 men and women ― women were age 45 to 55 ― using functional MRI to look at changes in the brain’s memory circuitry. Participants were shown two words on a screen and asked to form a sentence using them, then were later tested on their memory of the words. They also collected information on the female participants’ menopausal status and measured steroid hormone levels, including 17β-estradiol, a sex steroid hormone that declines during menopause.
The researchers found that when estradiol levels were lower, more pronounced changes in the hippocampus — one of the primary regions of the brain implicated in learning and memory — were seen, and participants with lower levels of the hormone performed worse on the memory task.
So the next time you misplace your car keys .... (sorry but our brain just froze. Can we get back to you later to finish that sentence?)