Personally, I am a huge fan of mind-body medicine.
Have a beautiful weekend!
This past weekend I was discussing the issue of my growing forgetfulness with a friend who, like me, appears to be losing her mind at times. Later that day, upon I landing at a local airport, I realized that I had forgotten where I parked my car only two days earlier. To add insult to injury? I had used a parking app so that I could remember. Only, it took a few minutes before I remembered that I had used the app.
Memory lapse is common among women as they transition from premenopause to perimenopause to full menopause, and even appears to cross boundaries and cultures. In the years that I’ve been writing Flashfree, I have run across data linking memory loss to stress, hormones and even a decline in gray brain matter. (If you would like to check out these posts, you can find them here.) Apparently, hot flashes have also been shown to be a significant predictor of so-called forgetfulness. In one study in particular, women were found to experience more memory problems and cognitive issues when they experienced more frequent hot flashes and sweats. Additionally the intensity of those flashes were directly correlated to how long memory issues lasted.
This probable link has been teased out recently in a small (68) pool of midlife women who reported having at least 35 hot flashes a week. Importantly, data were not only based on recall but also, on scientific measures of cognitive functioning (ability to remember words after both short and long delays), menopausal symptoms, sleep and positive and negative moods. With regard to memory in particular, the women were scored on how often they forgot, how serious a failing memory was in those situations, current memory in relation to earlier events in their lives (e.g. 5 years ago, 10 years ago) and the frequency with which they used or didn’t use memory aids. They were also asked to rate their current memory.
One of the most interesting findings was the validation that objective memory performance predicted the magnitude of subjective memory, i.e. the women had an accurate idea of how well or poorly their memory was functioning. What’s more, the higher the numbers of self-reported vasomotor symptoms, the more women recalled having issues in the past, which suggests that women with more vasomotor symptoms — more flashes and sweats — experienced cognitive issues longer than women with fewer symptoms. And, the greater the degree of negative mood — depression, anxiety, hostility — the higher the frequency of forgetting, again, confirming that complaints of memory loss during menopause is not, to coin a phrase, all in your head!
We still lack information on how the relationship between what we believe happens to our memory and what can be measured or confirmed changes as we age or across different menopausal stages. However, the data lend credence to claims that memory is changing during menopause, especially in terms of performance on tasks, and that our mood can influence how well we comprehend or judge the severity and seriousness of those lapses.
Feel like you are losing your mind at times? If you are in the throes of the ‘pause, this feeling may not be going away any time soon.
What’s in your ‘just in case’ stash? For many of us, one particular stash is no longer needed. Or is it?! Wendy Scherer weighs in on her stash dilemma: the unneeded tampon.
I’ve always kept a stash of tampons in the guest bathroom and in the master bathroom. Just in case. And, on occasion, it’s been pretty handy for our guests, too. I even bought a really cool old box when we moved into our home 3 years ago – specifically for extra toilet paper and tampons. Love the box.
It occurred to me today that maybe there’s a shelf life for tampons. While this may definitely fall into <em>too much information</em> category, I haven’t needed one since a couple months after we moved here. And clearly, no one in my family (3 sons and a husband) needs any. And frankly, I don’t think we’ve had any guests who have partaken of the bounty, either.
And so, they sit there in the box. Unneeded.
I hate to just throw them away. I know silly, right? But I harken back to memories of needing one desperately and can’t help but feel they should stay. Just in case.
About Wendy Scherer
Wendy Scherer is a wife, a mom, a friend, a social media researcher and marketing strategist. When faced with adversity, she bakes. She’s an eternal optimist. And she’s pretty darn friendly. You can reach her on Twitter at @wendyscherer and or check out her other online obsessions here.Read More
Are you consistently achy? Have you been told that you have fibromyalgia? According to research published in Maturitas, not only are middle-aged women prone to achy muscles and joints that might be otherwise known as fibromyalgia, but, those aches and pains may actually be related to hormonal changes. Indeed, when they reanalyzed information collected from over 8,300 women between the ages of 40 and 59, they learned that muscle and joint aches during this time period were significantly related to menopausal symptoms — not only did more than half of the women (63%) suffer from muscle and joint achiness, but, it appeared to double in prevalance in women ages 55 to 59 compared to their younger (40 to 44 year old) peers. Moreover, it tripled in women who were five years into menopause compared to the same group of women.
About 16% of these women said that their symptoms were severe or very severe. And importantly, these women tended to display so-called epidemiological characteristics, things like lower socioeconomic status (and by default, less likely to have the means to pay for better healthcare) or a history of psychiatric care. Regardless, there also appeared to be a direct correlation between feeling less healthy and having severe muscle and joint aches. And, women who had surgical menopause carried an even higher risk of presenting with worse joint symptoms.
Study findings also showed that the more intense menopause symptoms were, the more severe muscle and joint aches appeared to be; up to 60% of women with severe vasomotor symptoms also reported severe to very severe aches and pains.
It is possible that the central nervous system has some sort of role, as it impacts both symptoms and joint and muscle pains. Another commonality is that among women with fibromyalgia, symptoms like weakness, anxiety and insomnia — also seen during menopause — are present.
So where are the holes? Because of the study design, there is no cause and effect conclusion at play; in other words, researchers can’t unequivocally say that menopause causes aches and pains. Moreover, the tools used to evaluate muscle and joint pain are actually the same as those relied on to evaluate menopausal symptoms, which means that accuracy may come into question. Still, what they did learn is that hormone therapy reversed or lessened pain severity, meaning that menopause does appear to play some sort of role.
Meanwhile, if you are feeling especially achy and you are in the throes of menopause, it is very possible it’s not in your head. Talk to your practitioner, And consider mind-body strategies such as meditation, QiGong and yoga, which have been correlated with reductions in pain.Read More
This weekend, I had an amazing opportunity to spend an evening and time with old and new friends, to celebrate life, and love and family and career and being women. And that vibrant time was interrupted in the late Sunday afternoon hours with news that a friend’s mom had passed. My heart, so filled with joy just hours prior, was suddenly heavy with sadness for my friend.
We, I, am at that age where our parent are passing, our friends are becoming ill, our lives are likely more than half over. Let me tell you; it’s pretty strange and downright sobering.
I had started to write Monday’s post when news came via email of my friend’s mother’s passing. And I immediately realized that that post could wait.
Life, that life, our life, your life is filled constantly with happy balanced with sad. And when the sadness occurs in the midst of the joy it reinforces the importance of embracing and being grateful for those happy moments, evenings spent with friends laughing, loving, sharing, just being.
On this Monday, I wish you a life filled with joyful moments and the sobering events that allows one to be ever more grateful for them.
This, my dear readers, is life. Embrace the moments but pay attention to them, feel them, breathe them, exist in them. In a second, they change.
See you Wednesday.
p.s. A – sending love, peace and friendship.