Yoga Helps Symptoms and Improves Quality of Life in Perimenopause and Menopause

    women practicing yoga


    “This study showed that yoga practitioners had a low frequency and intensity of climacteric symptoms, which may justify their better quality of life. Other studies have shown that yoga can decrease menopausal symptoms and improve quality of life during the menopausal transition and postmenopause. Thus, women should be encouraged to consider yoga as an option for managing climacteric symptoms and improving quality of life” (Cota e Souza, Reis, & Lima, 2020, p.5)

    This new Brazilian study concluded that a regular yoga practice before menopause may be helpful in decreasing menopausal symptoms. The researchers studied women in the ‘climacteric’ stage. “Climacteric is a phase in a women’s life that comprises the gradual transition from the reproductive phase to the non-reproductive one. It begins around age 40 and ends around age 65” (Cota e Souza, Reis, & Lima, 2020, p. 1). Common symptoms related to hormonal changes in this period include: hot flashes, memory/concentration disorders, sleep problems, urinary and genital changes, headaches, fatigue, and depression (not a complete list). The nature and severity of climacteric symptoms can vary widely, resulting in a different impact on quality of life.

    A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that yoga is safe and effective in reducing psychological, somatic, vasomotor (hot flashes, night sweats), and urogenital menopausal symptoms. The Brazilian research team wanted to determine if a yoga practice prior to menopause could reduce menopausal symptoms.
    The researchers divided 108 women age 45 to 60 into three groups: those who had practiced yoga (an average of five times a week) for at least five years prior to menopause, those who engaged in regular physical activity (aerobic and/or body building) for at least five years pre-menopause, and a sedentary group. Exclusion criteria included hysterectomy or hormone therapy.

    The results showed a significant difference between the groups. The yoga group had the fewest climacteric symptoms, which included vasomotor and memory/concentration symptoms. They also had the greatest quality of life of all groups. The yoga participants used significantly fewer medications than either the physical activity or sedentary groups. The researchers acknowledged other lifestyle factors of the yoga group, including the tendency to choose alternative treatment. The ethical principle of “Ahimsa” advocates non-harm towards self and others, which was reflected in the higher number of vegetarians, nonsmokers, and abstainers from alcohol among yoga participants. The yoga group also had a significantly lower incidence of high blood pressure than the sedentary group. Given that the study subjects were middle-aged women with a greater risk of hypertension, anxiety, and depression due to aging and hormonal changes, the authors pointed out the potential lifetime benefit of reducing these risks and increased quality of life with yoga.

    The article cites other studies that have demonstrated yoga’s effectiveness in managing specific menopausal symptoms. Vasomotor symptoms, which include hot flashes and night sweats, are the most common and can lead to other troubling symptoms such as palpitations, insomnia and depression. Other studies have shown yoga to be beneficial in reducing vasomotor symptoms by balancing and downregulating the nervous system. Yoga’s effectiveness in stress reduction has been shown to improve depression and reduce irritability and nervousness. Reduction in headaches, pain, weakness and dizziness were attributed to the physical practice of yoga and/or breathing techniques.
    This is an interesting study that suggests women who start yoga prior to menopause will experience less distressing and disruptive symptoms associated with declining hormone levels. My personal experience with yoga late into my perimenopause and into menopause is consistent with these findings. I would add that it is never too early or too late to start practicing yoga for its many benefits! Deemed safe and effective for menopausal symptoms, yoga offers women a self-management tool that is accessible and affordable. Even in the current pandemic, yoga at different levels and styles can be accessed online from a private teacher, group class or video in the comfort and privacy of one’s home.

    Cota e Souza, L.A., Reis, I.A., & Lima, A.A. (September 2020 in press). Climacteric symptoms and quality of life in yoga practitioner. Explore. Retrieved from

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