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Anna: Hormones and Memory

Anna was having multiple symptoms around the time of menopause, which included hot flashes, night sweats, poor sleep, depression, and most notably, extreme difficulty with memory and cognitive brain function. In fact, she began having difficulty with multiple job-related duties, even routine tasks she had previously performed easily numerous times. She had multiple meetings with her supervisor, and remembers that "I would sit there and grind and grind and grind through the work material but that it was like my brain just couldn't connect and I couldn't produce anything I was expected to." Sadly, Anna feels that this dysfunction was the largest factor which ultimately led to her losing her job. After she consulted me, we discovered through blood work that Anna's hormone levels were extremely low, not surprising given her symptoms. I suspected that the low estrogen levels meant reduced blood flow to the brain, as well as diminished production of multiple vital neurotransmitters in the brain which were under the regulation of estrogen (including acetylcholine, norepinephrine, serotonin, etc.). It also made sense that chronically interrupted sleep was certainly not good for the brain or general health. Once we got her hormone levels back up with the use of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, she began feeling much better on all accounts, and in fact, feels that she's even better off than she was prior to entering menopause. Looking back, she felt that her symptoms were gradual, and not acute enough for her to really make the connection that her quality of life was slowly diminishing.

Anna's situation teaches us that once again, quality of life and the ability to function are plenty important, and that we have a choice in this matter, rather than accepting the ravages of aging and becoming dysfunctional. Once again, this case demonstrates the far-reaching effects of our hormones to multiple organ systems beyond the reproductive organs, and that it takes a high index of suspicion to look for "the bigger picture".