Healthy estrogen function is important for relieving menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, sleep disturbances, low bone density, and vaginal dryness. Estrogen is also important for brain and memory function.
Most people are taught to think of memory as a fixed thing, like IQ. This isnt true. Memory function can vary in response to changing hormone levels.
Some women notice memory lapses around the time of menopause. Women forget their car keys, names of people they know, and conversations theyve had. These memory lapses may cause worry of developing Alzheimers disease. However, these lapses in memory may simply be caused by information overload rather than the beginnings of Alzheimers. Also, they may be caused by hormone fluctuations caused by perimenopause, menopause, or even stress.
Emotionally exciting events such as your childs graduation can cause a release of hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine. These hormones activate a brain structure called the amygdale, which causes changes in the hippocampus, creating a sharp and intense memory.
Other hormones and neurotransmitters support memory by regulating sleep or boosting our mood.
Have you been blanking on information youve known for years such as your phone number or information you just read a few moments ago?
Estrogen function not only helps the brain create new connections, it may also protect old ones. When experiencing menopause, fluctuating estrogen levels may affect our long-term memory.
Have you started to fumble around when playing tennis or when working with garden tools around the house? Do you goof up when doing regular things like making coffee in the morning?
Estrogen not only influences and protects our cognitive abilities, its also involved in motor skills which is why you may notice changes in your physical abilities.
Do you find yourself saying one word when youre thinking of something entirely different?
Estrogen function is particularly important for verbal memory, which is often affected as we approach and go through menopause.
Are you becoming absentminded, forgetting things youve just done?
Estrogen deficiency can cause distractions and make you forgetful because it activates neurotransmitters that help us focus and remember what were doing.
Are you currently taking hormone replacement therapy that includes estrogen?
If youre experiencing memory problems and are using estrogen replacement for your HRT, talk to your doctor because you may need to adjust your prescription.
Are you a diabetic, or does diabetics run in your family?
A hormonal disruption in glucose regulation is referred to as insulin resistance. This can interfere with memory in various ways. With too little glucose, memory will likely suffer. Therefore, controlling blood sugar will likely improve memory.
Even before you hit peri menopause, estrogen levels may affect verbal and spatial ability. For example, when women ovulate, you could experience effects of high estrogen levels, potentially boosting verbal skills.
Estrogen is an important hormone that spurs the growth of glial cells, acting as aids between our blood supply and neurons, providing energy to the brain as well as affecting the neurons themselves. Thanks to estrogen, they grow more dendritic spines, creating more connections for processing information.
Estrogen keeps our brains working normally
Estrogen influences neural activity in areas in the brain that are important for learning and memory. Activity of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and acetylcholine promote memory. Acetylcholine helps us learn, concentrate, and recall information. Norepinephrine increases blood flow to the brain and makes us more alert.
Estrogen protects the brain
Estrogen helps prevent the creation of dead spots or beta amyloid plaques in the brain thats associated with Alzheimers. Good estrogen function may also reduce inflammation and even serve as an antioxidant, fighting off the free radicals that attack brain cells.
Lots of neurons in the brain are responsive to estrogen. The brain will suffer if deprived of estrogen. Many neurons in the brain are related to cognitive function. This is why lower estrogen levels during menopause can have a profound effect on cognition.
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