Experts in the field of menopausal health have said that women experiencing memory issues as they go through menopause should seek help from healthcare practitioners.
According to the experts, memory problems are common during the menopause transition, adding that the large majority of women will not develop dementia.
The physicians spoke during the 2022 edition of World Menopause Day commemorated across the globe.
Since 2009, the International Menopause Society, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, has designated October as World Menopause Awareness Month, with October 18 celebrated as World Menopause Awareness Day.
The purpose of the day, according to IMS, is to raise awareness of menopause and the support options available for improving the health and well-being of women.
In a White Paper released by IMS to commemorate the day, the experts stated that many women going through menopause will become concerned that ‘brain fog’ symptoms are a sign of dementia.
Brain fog, the experts said is a very common symptom of perimenopause and menopause.
The White Paper cautioned physicians against an invariable prescribing of hormone therapy for menopausal women with complaints of ‘brain fog’ and argued for evidence-based approaches for helping women experiencing cognitive difficulties in menopause and pre-menopause.
The paper noted that many women going through menopause will become concerned that ‘brain fog’ symptoms are a sign of dementia.
It advised physicians to educate menopausal women about the rarity of dementia in midlife and reinforce the message that women commonly experience changes in their cognitive function as they transition through menopause.
The paper added that these changes rarely represent the initial stages of a more serious cognitive disorder.
It also advised clinicians to counsel menopausal women on the importance of weight management and physical exercise alongside smoking cessation, alcohol consumption reduction and the minimisation of stress to protect their brain health
Co-author of the White Paper titled, “The Brain fog in menopause: a health-care professional’s guide for decision-making and counselling on cognition,” Prof. Pauline Maki, said the paper was aimed at providing practitioners with an overview of data informing clinical care of menopausal women and a framework for clinical counselling and decision-making.
Prof. Maki said, “This White Paper emphasises the importance of evidence-based guidance for optimising the cognitive health of menopausal patients.
“Patients with cognitive complaints at menopause are often concerned about their risk of dementia
later in life and it’s important to let them know that memory problems are common during the menopause transition and the large majority of women will not develop dementia.”
Another co-author of the IMS White Paper, Dr. Nicole Jaff, added “Healthcare practitioners play an important role in counseling women on cognitive changes at midlife and normalizing women’s experience.
“Treatment of menopausal ‘brain fog’ with hormone therapy should not be inevitable and invariable.
“Healthcare practitioners should counsel their patients about modifiable risk factors and lifestyle changes to protect and improve cognitive health while considering the use of hormone therapy on a case-by-case basis.”
According to an online portal, WebMD, it’s common for women going through menopause to complain of what researchers sometimes call “brain fog” — forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating and thinking clearly.
Speaking in an interview with newsmen, a public health physician, Dr. Austine Aipoh, stated that while menopause symptoms could be mild, moderate, or severe, it is an experience that every woman will go through once she starts having the withdrawal of female hormones like oestrogen and progesterone.
Menopause, Aipoh said, can occur between the ages of 45 and 52 among women in Nigeria.
He, however, added that, in rare cases, menopause can occur between the ages of 36 and 40, which is referred to as early menopause.
The public health expert expressed concern that many Nigerian women are unable to differentiate between menopausal syndrome and other health conditions.
Aipoh said, “Women in their late 40s and 50s should learn to see a doctor when they are experiencing changes in their body.
“We need health awareness because a large number of women in Nigeria confuse menopausal syndrome with typhoid and malaria.
“They will come to you and be complaining of typhoid and that they need treatment. But by the time you check them, you will find out that what they have is menopausal syndrome and not typhoid.
“Some of them even start treatment at home with various types of antibiotics before visiting the hospital not knowing that they do not have typhoid or malaria but symptoms of menopause.”