An hour-long mindful yoga class, thrice a week, reduced testosterone levels by 29 per cent over a three-month period in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), according to the researchers.
PCOS is a common hormonal disorder that affects reproductive, metabolic and psychological health. It is estimated that PCOS affects between five and 15 per cent of reproductive-age women, and it is the most common cause of anovulatory infertility.
Women with PCOS may experience irregular menstrual cycles, hirsutism, acne, male-pattern hair loss, subfertility and higher incidence of miscarriage. According to the study, published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, other androgen levels, like DHEA, were also reduced, and depression and anxiety levels improved by 55 and 21 per cent, respectively.
“Mindful yoga appears to be a promising option for treating PCOS in a way that can improve several aspects of the disorder,” said study lead author Diana Speelman from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in the US.
Reducing androgen levels, including testosterone and DHEA, is key to managing these symptoms. Weight loss, where appropriate, can also help in the management of symptoms, the researchers said.
For the findings, they recruited women with PCOS aged 22-43 and randomly assigned them into a group, either with no intervention or one in which they would participate in mindful yoga practice for three months.
The latter group was given a course in practising mindfulness one week before beginning the 3-month mindful yoga practice. Mindful yoga sessions were an hour long and took place three times a week, over three months. The benefits of improved androgen levels, as well as reduced depression and anxiety, occurred in the absence of weight loss.
Some participants also reported fewer acne breakouts and improved menstrual regularity, following the mindful yoga intervention. “Yoga has so many benefits. One of its best qualities is that it is accessible to such a wide array of ages and fitness levels,” Speelman said.
Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) should consider adopting a mindful yoga practice to help ease symptoms and improve androgen levels, the researchers suggested.