Yoga does not cool the hot flashes, but may aid the sleep
Practicing yoga may not ease the hot flashes of menopause, but it might help women sleep a bit easier, a new clinical trial suggests.
At the present time, hormone therapy is the most effective treatment for hot flashes and night sweats many women develop as they go through the menopause. But the hormones were associated with risks such as blood clots and heart attack, so many women want alternatives.
A few small studies have suggested that yoga can reduce the frequency and severity of hot flushes possibly by calming nervous system activity. But this was not the case in this latest trial, which randomly assigned 249 women to either take a course of gentle yoga for 12 weeks, or stick to their usual activities.
At the end of the study, the women in the yoga group were less hot flash each day – but so were those of the comparison group.
Yoga practitioners do not seem to be a better sleep
On the other hand, the yoga practitioners do not seem to be a better sleep.
“For the moment, there seems to be little evidence that yoga is helpful for hot flashes,” said lead researcher Katherine Newton, of the Institute of health research Group in Seattle.
“However, we have found yoga to be modestly helpful for insomnia,” added Newton. This is important, she noted, because sleep problems are one of the most common reasons that women seek some kind of treatment as they go through menopause.
“If insomnia is bothering a woman,” Newton said, “this style of gentle yoga, practiced regularly, can be beneficial.”
The study was funded by the u.s. national Institutes of health and recently published online in the journal Menopause.
It may be too early to write off the yoga as a remedy for the burst of heat, according to another researcher not involved in the study.
Yoga as a lifestyle change
Yoga should be considered a lifestyle change, and it takes time for people to work in their lives, pointed out Nancy Woods, a professor at the University of Washington School of Nursing who studies the symptoms of menopause.
“This is a practice,” she said. “You need to learn the poses, be comfortable with them, and then integrate these practices into your daily life.”
It is therefore possible that women need longer than 12 weeks of yoga to see benefits for their hot flashes, according to Woods. The medication would be called upon to work within this time, she said, but a lifestyle change “may not have the quick effect which is a drug.”
“The women who are already doing yoga should not stop because of this study,” added Woods.
And if the women presenting with symptoms of the menopause are interested in starting yoga, she added, this is worth trying. Even if it does not cool their hot flushes, Woods noted, there could be other gains, the reduction of stress as well as better sleep and the health benefits of physical exercise.
Women doing yoga have less hot flashes
The results are based on 249 women who were suffering seven to eight hot flashes per day, on average; 107 were randomly assigned to get to the yoga, while the rest stuck with their daily routines as normal.
The women in the yoga group have 12 weekly classes that included postures of gentle yoga, breathing exercises, meditation and relaxation. They were also given a DVD and yoga props to use at home.
After 12 weeks, the women have been have less hot flashes – less than five per day, on average. But the women of the comparison group reported a similar change. The only difference between the groups was in insomnia symptoms, which improved to a greater degree in the yoga group.
Woods said that women who feel that they need a quick fix for their hot flashes might want to talk to their doctor about hormone therapy. But they are interested in a lifestyle change, yoga could be a part of it.
There is no right or wrong answer
“There is no right or wrong answer,” said Woods.
But both she and Newton said that, as with any type of exercise, women should consult their health care professional before starting a new routine. There are also many different styles of yoga, some of which are vigorous and may not be suitable for everyone.
So before you launch into a yoga class, this is a good idea, according to Woods, talking to someone in the center on the style he taught.
You will also have to pay the bill. price of the yoga class vary, but generally range between $ 10 and $ 20.