• How Do Hormones Affect Memory?

    by Dr. Harlan South
    on Sep 27th, 2018

Hormones can affect your memory as much as your mood. When you experience frequent outbursts of anger or find yourself crying randomly, you may want to look at your hormone levels. If you have a difficult time remembering what happened yesterday or further back in your past, your doctor may recommend looking at your inflammatory and hormone levels. When hormones affect memory, you'll may experience “brain fog”.  Learn more about the symptoms of brain fog, and possible treatments.

How Do Hormones Affect Memory?

Hormone level fluctuations can change the way your brain works with your neurons and other cells. Each brain cell can produce neurotransmitters, chemicals which spread information between cells and to different parts of the body. If your body does not produce sufficient levels of hormones (i.e., thyroid hormone), the neurotransmitters cannot function properly. Your memory span and ability to concentrate will be negatively affected.

Brain Fog as a Symptom

One of the more common symptoms you might experience is brain fog. Have you ever sat down to send an email on the computer and suddenly forgot what you wanted to write or to who? Brain fog can also affect the way you act around your home. Some people find that they’ll walk into a room only to forget why they entered that room in the first place. Brain fog can manifest itself in other ways. Some of those symptoms can include:

Some women have such severe brain fog that they actually worry they might have Alzheimer's dementia. While an early onset of dementia can strike people in their 30s and 40s, it typically affects people later in life. If you experience frequent episodes of brain fog, you should consult an integrative physician about your hormones and level of blood inflammation.

Signs and Symptoms of Memory Problems

In addition to brain fog, some people experience speech patterns changes and problems speaking. You cannot put together a string of words to form a sentence or you forget basic words used every day. There may be changes in one’s thought patterns. One will have a great deal of difficulty completing a task because you aren't sure how to do all the steps or how to follow those steps in your mind.

Some other symptoms of memory problems include:

It's extremely important that you understand the symptoms of memory problems, and how those problems can relate to your hormone levels.

Causes of Hormone Fluctuations

The most common cause of a hormonal imbalance is tied to increasing liver congestion and systemic inflammation. Women's bodies produce more estrogen during their younger years than they do in peri-and post-menopause. Once you pass child-bearing age by age 45 and earlier, a women’s body will slow down on its production of sex hormones.  Liver congestion will cause poor metabolism of sex hormones and cause them to be transformed into toxic forms.

Stress is another common cause of a hormonal imbalance. Have you ever been through a rough few weeks at work and found yourself taking out on your anger at home? Those outbursts can leave you feeling even more stressed, which will make you feel worse. Your body temperature and sleep cycles can change the way your body produces hormones too. If you are too hot or too cold, you might not produce as many hormones as you need. Those who do not get enough sleep consistently (~ 7 to 8 hours a night) can suffer from hormone problems.

Treating a Hormonal Imbalance

When it comes to treating your problem, you can choose between complementary forms of healthcare and more conventional treatments. Meditation, Tai Chi, and yoga are two of the more complementary treatment methods. Yoga and Tai Chi allows you to work your whole body at the same time that you focus on your breathing and form a connection between your mind, body, and spirit. As you meditate, you can reduce your stress levels and elevate your mood.

Alcohol consumption (more than 2 drinks per week), red meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, refined sugar, and processed foods cause dramatic damage to brain function and trigger hormone imbalances.

Dr. Harlan South, M.D., anti-aging integrative specialist at Advanced Health, has more than 17 years of experience working with patients with hormone imbalance and brain fog. Dr. South provides personalized treatments designed to help the entire body through modalities such as BioTE Therapy. BioTE helps your body naturally increase its hormone production and less cognitive malfunction. If you would like to assess if bio-identical hormones can help improve your memory, make an appointment with Dr. South.

Author Dr. Harlan South Dr. Harlan South is a Holistic Integrative and Age Management Physician located in Pacific Heights, San Francisco.

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