Written by Rita Kyurklyan
How your hormones can affect your brain
Women have many different types of hormones in their bodies. There is one hormone name that comes up frequently when discussing women’s health and that is estrogen.
Estrogen is a sex hormone found in people who are assigned female at birth (AFAB). People assigned females at birth can experience estrogen fluctuations throughout their life.
During perimenopause, estrogen levels drop as your body is preparing for the stop of your menstrual cycle. This may lead you to wonder why a sex hormone affects your mental ability and memory so much.
How Estrogen Works
The hormone estrogen isn’t just responsible for your healthy menstrual cycles and reproductive system. Estrogen actually plays a large part in your brain function as well. Estrogen stimulates the neurons in your brain, which are little cells of the brain that send and receive messages.
The hormone keeps the neurons firing, supporting the new growth of cells. Hormones help existing cells form new connections which keep your brain’s activity at its best.
As your estrogen levels drop during perimenopause your body, including your brain goes through a deprivation of the hormone estrogen. Estrogen deprivation reduces your brain’s activity and causes brain fog and can cause memory loss.
Memory Impairment and Perimenopause
While studies have shown that women perform better than men on measures of verbal memory, there is a steep decline in memory with perimenopause. Scientists have been conducting studies for the past 15 years to better understand the ways perimenopause and menopause affect the brain and memory according to Harvard Health.
Studies show that lower levels of estrogen affect brain cell generation, connectivity, and death. These processes affect brain regions that are important for memory.
During this time perimenopause also lowers the level of glucose in the brain which is the main source of energy for the brain. The reduction of all these processes are what affect memory in AFAB individuals, but the effects are not permanent as your body will look for new pathways to create more energy and cell growth.
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