Suzie Wells is the mother to Sam and Billie Faiers and also grandmother to five with another on the way.
She was catapulted to fame thanks to her daughters’ appearance on TOWIE and then their own spin-off show, Sam & Billie: The Mummy Diaries on ITV.
The glamorous grandmother has spoken openly about her menopausal symptoms, which left her feeling as if she had dementia.
Severe memory issues during menopause can include a woman neglecting their personal hygiene, forgetting the name of familiar objects, or having difficulty following directions.
These symptoms during menopause can leave many worried they might be suffering from early-onset dementia.
“I thought I was getting early onset dementia,” Suzie told OK.co.uk. “You think, ‘Oh my God, am I going crazy?’ But it’s the brain fog.”
“Brain fog is a very common symptom of the menopause, and many women say that their brains feel like ‘cotton wool’,” explains the Menopause Charity.
“You might have noticed that you’re increasingly forgetful, can’t remember names, lose your keys, write endless to do lists, and find it hard to retain information.
“These symptoms can be so severe that you may even start to worry that you have dementia.”
Menopause symptoms affecting cognition and memory
Oestrogen and testosterone are two of the main female hormones that play an integral role when it comes to cognition and memory.
During perimenopause and menopause, these hormones levels drop with the result being a negative impact on a woman’s cognitive brain health.
Symptoms can include memory loss, difficulty finding the right kinds of words, inability to stay focused, losing your train of thought and confusion.
One study found that around 60% of middle-aged women may suffer from cognitive difficulties affecting their concentration.
These memory issues are said to peak during perimenopause and can last between four and 12 years.
Why does this happen?
Oestrogen helps to stimulate the brain, which in turn fires up the neurons supporting growth of new cells and also helping existing cells to form new connections.
“When oestrogen levels fall in midlife, your entire body – including your brain – goes into a sudden deprivation state,” adds the Menopause Charity.
“At a cellular level, oestrogen pushes your brain cells to burn more glucose, which is its main fuel.
“Studies have shown that there is an overall reduction of brain energy levels during menopause, which can trigger hot flushes, night sweats, anxiety, depression, brain fog, and the host of other cognitive symptoms mentioned.”
Likewise, testosterone also plays a role in brain health, helping to strengthen the nerves that contribute to mental sharpness.
Testosterone also strengthens arteries that supply blood flow leading to the brain – a crucial aspect when it comes to memory recall.
“I should be on top of the world, but you just don’t feel yourself with the menopause. I’ve tried all sorts but I’m currently using HRT [hormone replacement therapy], including a transdermal spray, and I am feeling better,” said Suzie.
“But the doctor said I need to give it a good six months. I haven’t had that feeling yet where I feel like a different woman, but I’m getting there.”
Research shows that brain fog can improve post-menopause, with lifestyle changes helping to improve brain health including a healthy diet, exercise, managing stress with memory and crossword puzzles also helping.