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Q: "I am having trouble remembering things. Is this due to aging or menopause?"

Dr. Katherine ScruggsA: Women do tend to complain more of memory problems during the menopause transition. The perceptions of worsening memory and difficulty paying attention are higher in women who also experience more hot flashes, anxiety and moodiness during this time. Those perceptions do reflect reality to a certain extent: women who report memory problems are likely to perform less well on tests of memory function, though these differences are usually not dramatic. It is not normal to have difficulty completing routine tasks, to be confused about time or place, or to have memory problems that interfere with daily life. If this does occur, evaluation by a neurologist may be appropriate. So you may forget where you put your car keys, but you shouldn't forget how to use them! These complaints are usually temporary, and improve as women proceed further into the menopause transition. Having memory problems associated with menopause does not increase one's risk of dementia in the future. Things you can do to improve your memory include: exercising, getting enough sleep (7-9 hours per night for most of us), learn new skills, and eat food high in Omega 3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines, walnuts, tofu and flax seed. Using memory tools such as making lists, using reminder apps, etc., can also be helpful.

Dr. Katherine Scruggs Midlife Health Center at Magee-Womens Hospital

Q: " I am having difficulty with weight gain. Could it be due to menopause?"

A: As you get older, you may find that weight gain becomes more of a problem. As we age, our metabolism slows down, and weight gain is a consequence of this. Loss of muscle mass decreased your calorie usage, so it becomes more difficult to maintain your previous weight, even if nothing in your diet has changed. Studies show that The hormonal changes of menopause make you more likely to deposit this extra fat around your abdomen. Genetic factors play a role as well, so if many of your close relatives have a problem with weight gain, you are more likely to as well. Finally, stress and lack of sleep can be contributing factors as well. Almost all of us hate to gain weight because we don't feel our best. But did you know that weight gain increases your risk of medical complications as well? Weight gain is not only associated with diabetes and heart disease, it is also associated with an increase in risk of some cancers, such as breast and colon cancer.

So what's the best way to stop this extra gain of pounds? Go back to the basics. Exercise more with both aerobic exercise and strength training. Remember that building up muscle mass means you burn more calories even when you sleep! The Department of Health and Human Services recommends moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, for at least 150 minutes a week or vigorous aerobic activity, such as jogging, for at least 75 minutes a week, with strength training exercises at least twice a week. Eat less. Because your metabolism has dropped, you need about 200 calories less per day than you did in your 40s. Don't just cut calories, but choose your foods wisely. Eat from the periphery of the grocery store – more fruits and vegetables and lean protein and less processed foods and sugars. Menopause weight gain is not inevitable and you have the ability to control it.

Dr. Judith Volkar Midlife Health Center at Magee-Womens Hospital

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