Before I Forget, Let’s Talk about Memory Loss


Credit: David Malan/Getty images

I’m working on a new book proposal at the moment, very exciting! Formulating and shaping a book is definitely the best part before all the hard work begins. Without giving too much away at this embryonic stage (there’s some kind of midlife irony in there), it focuses on menopause and the symptoms thereof.


I had a Zoom chat with my agent in London this week to run it by him and see if he thought, for want of a more technical term, it was a goer. About halfway through the conversation he said that he did indeed think it was a goer, but he had to ask me a somewhat personal question, was I actually menopausal? I get his point, to be credible I have to have some personal experience of that which I speak (or in this case write). I’m 51 so I assume I am. This might all be a bit too much information but I’m among friends so here goes!


I have a Mirena coil and as a result I haven’t actually had a period for the best part of ten years, so it’s difficult for me to say what the menstruation situation is. I used to get tender boobs around the time my period was due but this has pretty much stopped, so that could be a sign.


As for hot flushes and night sweats, I can’t say that I have noticed particular heat episodes, but I do live in Singapore and so I’m bloody boiling pretty much ALL the time. I do complain of being ‘too hot’ more than I used to and I crank up the aircon at night, so again this may indicate a tendency towards ‘hotness’ and not in a good way!


My sleep has definitely deteriorated. I was Queen Sleep for the best part of fifty years and for the last year or so I have struggled to drop off. This may partly be corona-induced and not necessarily due to plummeting oestrogen levels, but on balance I'd say I don't sleep as well as I used to.


However, and I think this is the decider, my memory is SHOT! It has got so bad in the last few months that I actually googled ‘early-onset dementia’ and was very relieved to find an absolute plethora of information out there about memory loss during perimenopause. You may find this reassuring:


Symptoms of dementia:

routine lack of judgment and poor decision-making

inability to pay bills, handle money, or make a budget

forgetting the day of the week, date, month, year, or season

having trouble carrying out a normal conversation

losing items and being unable to find them


Normal age-related memory loss:

making a poor decision occasionally

missing a monthly credit card payment once in a while

forgetting the day of the week or date and remembering later

sometimes having trouble remembering a word or name during a conversation

misplacing things occasionally but finding them later

(source Healthline)


But unlikely as it is to be Alzheimer's, it can be rather unsettling not recalling things you’ve done or, in my case, whole conversations you’ve had with people. If it starts to interfere with your ability to do your job or to live your life as you’d wish, then it’s definitely time to get checked out. HRT may be the answer. Here’s an excellent article by Dr. Louise Newson, The Menopause Doctor, if you’d like to find out more:

https://www.menopausedoctor.co.uk/menopause/menopausal-can-confused-dementia


Now back to the original question posed by my agent, am I menopausal? Putting all those pieces of the jigsaw together I would say I definitely am, but possibly because of what I do for a living I eat healthily and exercise regularly and so thus far I have not been too negatively affected by it. Which all makes me more convinced than ever of the power of a healthy lifestyle to help women live their best midlives.


Sam x

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