EVERY woman and her best friend know how clouded some days of the month seem. These are the days when remembering even the routine tasks of the day is a challenge, and concentration is at an all time low. Neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have recently reported in a recent study that hormone fluctuations during a woman’s menstrual cycle may affect the brain as much as do substances such as caffeine, methamphetamines or the popular attention drug Ritalin.
While normal ageing itself can result in a decline of certain cognitive abilities, many women at midlife complain specifically of difficulties in maintaining focus and concentration, feeling fuzzy or woolly headed. Researchers attribute this to hormonal imbalance and decline at an earlier age, which is caused by the rising levels of stress and chemicals in the environment, as well as poor dietary choices. The increasingly complicated lives of women (which involve multitasking, more stress and too little sleep) aggravate the physical and emotional impact of hormones.
A woman’s oestrogen levels govern her health in a big way. This hormone serves several useful functions in the body, which include regulating the liver’s production of cholesterol, maintaining the body’s temperature as well as preserving bone density. Excessive levels of oestrogen have been linked to cancer, while lower levels are responsible for the symptoms associated with menopause such as hot flushes and forgetfulness.