WHAT IS IT?
Yoga is an ancient approach to health and wellness. It has grown in popularity in the U.S. since the 1970s. It often includes movements and poses, breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, and meditation. The types of yoga studied for menopause include hatha yoga, viniyoga, integral yoga, integrative yoga and restorative yoga. These are gentle yoga forms that are right for midlife and older women who may not have done yoga before. The more vigorous types of yoga such as yoga flow and hot yoga have not been studied.
OUR BOTTOM LINE: DOES IT HELP?
MAYBE. While yoga won’t decrease the number of hot flashes or night sweats you have, you may be less bothered by them. It may also help your mood and help you sleep better. It is worth a try.
HOT FLASHES AND NIGHT SWEATS
Studies of yoga find no decrease in hot flashes and night sweats frequency, but it does seem to decrease how bothered women are by them.
SLEEP PROBLEMS & INSOMNIA
Yoga seems to improve sleep in women whose sleep is disturbed by night sweats.
MOOD, ANXIETY & DEPRESSION
Yoga may help. It may have about the same effect as exercise in improving mood overall.
VAGINAL PAIN & DRYNESS, NOT DURING SEX
PAIN DURING SEX
BLADDER CONTROL & INCONTINENCE
When vaginal dryness, difficulty with sexual intercourse, and bladder control problems have been studied together it looks like yoga may help a little. But we cannot tell if yoga specifically helps any one of these symptoms on its own.
POTENTIAL RISKS & SIDE EFFECTS
No serious side effects or risks have been reported in the studies of yoga as a treatment for menopause symptoms
QUALITY OF LIFE EXPECTATIONS
To the degree that yoga may improve some symptoms it may improve your quality of life.
IF I WANT TO TRY THIS TREATMENT WHAT ARE MY NEXT STEPS?
- Yoga classes are offered at community centers, senior centers, and private studios. There are also DVDs available for sale or at public libraries.
- There are different types of yoga, and the ones that have been studied for menopause include gentle yoga, viniyoga, restorative yoga, integral yoga and integrative yoga. More vigorous forms of yoga such as hot yoga and yoga flow have not been studied for menopause symptoms, so it is not known how well they work.
- Many yoga classes are also offered on line.
- There is no standardized or certified yoga specifically for treating menopause symptoms
In 2018, the most recent review of yoga for menopause symptoms found 13 studies with 1,306 participants in total (Cramer 2018 Maturitas): All studies included postures, 11 included breathing techniques, and 8 included meditation. In these studies, Yoga classes were held 1-3 times/week, over 4-16 weeks, with or without meditation, breathing or relaxation components. Duration varied from 20 minutes to 2 hours per session. Some studies included home practice. To our knowledge hot yoga and yoga flow type classes have not been studied for menopause.
A variety of symptoms could potentially be addressed with yoga:
- Total menopause symptoms
- Hot Flash frequency
- Hot Flash severity
- Psychological symptoms such as mood, anxiety and depression
- Quality of life
- Sexual quality of life
Buchanan DT, Landis CA, Hohensee C, Guthrie KA, Otte JL, Paudel M, Anderson GL, Caan B, Freeman EW, Joffe H, LaCroix AZ, Newton KM, Reed SD, Ensrud KE. Effects of Yoga and Aerobic Exercise on Actigraphic Sleep Parameters in Menopausal Women with Hot Flashes.
J Clin Sleep Med. 2017 Jan 15;13(1):11-18. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.6376. PMID: 27707450. Free PMC Article
Cramer H, Peng W, Lauche R. Yoga for menopausal symptoms-A systematic review and meta-analysis. Maturitas. 2018 Mar;109:13-25. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2017.12.005. PMID: 29452777
Cramer H1, Lauche R, Langhorst J, Dobos G. Effectiveness of yoga for menopausal symptoms: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:863905. doi: 10.1155/2012/863905. PMID: 23304220
Drewe J, Bucher KA, Zahner C. A systematic review of non-hormonal treatments of vasomotor symptoms in climacteric and cancer patients. SpringerPlus. 2015;4:65. Published 2015 Feb 10. doi:10.1186/s40064-015-0808-y. PMID: 25713759
Goldstein KM, Coeytaux RR, Williams JW Jr, Shepherd-Banigan M, Goode AP, McDuffie JR, Befus D, Adam S, Masilamani V, Noord MV, Nagi A, Wing L. Nonpharmacologic Treatments for Menopause-Associated Vasomotor Symptoms. Washington (DC): Department of Veterans Affairs (US); 2016. PMID: 28825782
Guthrie KA, LaCroix AZ, Ensrud KE, Joffe H, Newton KM, Reed SD, Caan B, Carpenter JS, Cohen LS, Freeman EW, Larson JC, Manson JE, Rexrode K, Skaar TC, Sternfeld B, Anderson GL. Pooled Analysis of Six Pharmacologic and Nonpharmacologic Interventions for Vasomotor Symptoms. Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Aug;126(2):413-22. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000000927. PMID: 26241433
Jones SM, Guthrie KA, Reed SD, Landis CA, Sternfeld B, LaCroix AZ, Dunn A, Burr RL, Newton KM. A yoga & exercise randomized controlled trial for vasomotor symptoms: Effects on heart rate variability. Complement Ther Med. 2016;26:66-71. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2016.03.001. PMID: 27261984 Free PMC Article
NAMS. Nonhormonal management of menopause-associated vasomotor symptoms: 2015 position statement of The North American Menopause Society. Menopause. 2015;22(11):1155-1174. doi:10.1097/GME.0000000000000546. PMID: 26382310
Authors: Dr. Katherine Newton, & Dr. Leslie Snyder. Last reviewed February 15, 2021