Improve Quality of Life in Women with Ovarian Removal with Mindfulness
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“midlife women with higher mindfulness scores experienced fewer menopausal symptoms. These findings suggest that mindfulness may be a promising tool to help women reduce menopausal symptoms and overall stress.” – Richa Sood
Women who carry genetic markers, BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, have a very high risk of developing ovarian cancer. Often as a preventative measure, women opt to have their ovaries and fallopian tubes surgically removed (salpingo-oophorectomy). A consequence of this procedure is to produce the onset of menopausal symptoms. These include hot flashes, (night) sweats, vaginal dryness, loss of sexual desire, and pain during intercourse. Hormone treatments may reduce the symptom intensity but do not eliminate them.
Hence, there is a need to find alternative treatment to help relieve these troubling symptoms following ovary removal. Mindfulness training has been shown to help reduce the symptoms of natural meonpause. But it is not known whether mindfulness training might also help alleviate these symptoms in women after surgical removal of the ovaries.
In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based stress reduction for menopausal symptoms after risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (PURSUE study): a randomised controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6587763/), van Driel and colleagues recruited women who carried the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation and had undergone surgical removal of their ovaries and fallopian tubes before the age of 52 years. They continued care as usual and were randomly assigned to receive an 8-week program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or no additional treatment. The MBSR program met for 2.5 hours once a week along with 30-45 minutes of daily home practice and consisted of discussion, meditation, yoga, and body scan practices. The women were measured before and after MBSR and 3 and 9 months later for menopausal-specific quality of life, sexual function, and sexual distress.
They found that in comparison to baseline and the usual care control group, the group that received MBSR training had significantly improved menopausal-specific quality of life, including improved vasomotor (i.e. burden caused by hot flushes, night sweats, and sweating in general) and physical symptoms (e.g. burden caused by stamina reduction, aches, and urination frequency) quality of life. These improvements were found immediately after MBSR training and 9 months later. No significant improvements were found for sexual function or distress.
The study results suggest that MBSR training is a safe and effective treatment to produce long-term improvements in the menopausal quality of life in women who carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation and had undergone surgical removal of their ovaries and fallopian tubes. MBSR consists of a package of practices. It will remain for future research to determine which of these practices or which combination of practices are necessary and sufficient to produce the benefits.
So, improve quality of life in women with ovarian removal with mindfulness.
“Mindfulness cannot entirely remove the symptoms of menopause, but it can help you deal with them in a calmer and more compassionate way – and self compassion boosts mental health. Learning these simple techniques to focus our awareness, relax the body, and ride out the storm, (whether the storm is physical or emotional) can pay great dividends’” – Karita Cullen
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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van Driel, C., de Bock, G. H., Schroevers, M. J., & Mourits, M. J. (2019). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for menopausal symptoms after risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (PURSUE study): a randomised controlled trial. BJOG : an international journal of obstetrics and gynaecology, 126(3), 402–411. doi:10.1111/1471-0528.15471
To assess the short‐ and long‐term effects of mindfulness‐based stress reduction (MBSR) on the resulting quality of life, sexual functioning, and sexual distress after risk‐reducing salpingo‐oophorectomy (RRSO).
Randomised controlled trial.
A specialised family cancer clinic of the university medical center Groningen.
Sixty‐six women carriers of the BRCA1/2 mutation who developed at least two moderate‐to‐severe menopausal symptoms after RRSO.
Women were randomised to an 8‐week MBSR training programme or to care as usual (CAU).
Main outcome measures
Change in the Menopause‐Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire (MENQOL), the Female Sexual Function Index, and the Female Sexual Distress Scale, administered from baseline at 3, 6, and 12 months. Linear mixed modelling was applied to compare the effect of MBSR with CAU over time.
At 3 and 12 months, there were statistically significant improvements in the MENQOL for the MBSR group compared with the CAU group (both P = 0.04). At 3 months, the mean MENQOL scores were 3.5 (95% confidence interval, 95% CI 3.0–3.9) and 3.8 (95% CI 3.3–4.2) for the MBSR and CAU groups, respectively; at 12 months, the corresponding values were 3.6 (95% CI 3.1–4.0) and 3.9 (95% CI 3.5–4.4). No significant differences were found between the MBSR and CAU groups in the other scores.
Mindfulness‐based stress reduction was effective at improving quality of life in the short‐ and long‐term for patients with menopausal symptoms after RRSO; however, it was not associated with an improvement in sexual functioning or distress.
Mindfulness improves menopause‐related quality of life in women after risk‐reducing salpingo‐oophorectomy.