14 Apr PCOS: Regular Yoga May Decrease Testosterone Levels
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Diana Speelman, Ph.D.
Director of Research for the College of Medicine
Associate Professor of Biochemistry
Reproductive System Course Coordinator
Erie, PA 16509
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Would you briefly explain what is meant by PCOS?
Response: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormone disorder in women of reproductive age. It is characterized by high androgen levels (e.g., testosterone) in the blood and irregular menstrual cycles. Despite affecting 5-15% of women, its cause is unknown. While medications can be used to reduce androgen levels, or help achieve menstrual regularity or stimulate ovulation, these often have undesirable side effects. Our goal was to investigate the effectiveness of non-pharmacologic approaches, including yoga, on improving the characteristics associated with the disorder.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? Does regular yoga also reduce testosterone levels in men?
Response: Our major finding is that yoga practice three times per week for 3 months resulted in a 29% reduction in testosterone levels in women with PCOS. PCOS is reported to involve hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, which can raise testosterone levels in females. We propose that regular yoga practice may reduce this sympathetic hyperactivity, resulting in the lower testosterone levels. Our study population included women with PCOS; we have not examined testosterone levels in men.
In addition, we found a reduction in anxiety and depression in women with PCOS who completed the 3-month yoga intervention. Both are reported to be more frequently found in women with the disorder.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Mindful yoga practice 3 times per week (~1 hour each time) is a non-pharmacologic therapy that may significantly reduce serum testosterone levels in women with PCOS. Anxiety and depression may also be reduced with regular yoga practice in this population.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: We would like to expand this study to a larger population of women with PCOS and other hyperandrogenic disorders, as well as investigate if similar effect is seen with at-home, shorter, or less frequent practice. We would also like to explore the mechanisms underlying the improvements, and investigate other non-pharmacologic therapies that could be used to improve health in women with PCOS.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: Yoga has many wonderful benefits, and is accessible to people of varying ages and fitness levels. It can be a wonderful complement to traditional therapies for women with PCOS.
Patel V, Menezes H, Menezes C, Bouwer S, Bostick-Smith CA, Speelman DL. Regular Mindful Yoga Practice as a Method to Improve Androgen Levels in Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2020;. doi: https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2020.050.
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