By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“Yoga boosts circulation, which can relieve fluid buildup that causes bloating. The paced, deep breathing also increases oxygen flow to tissues, decreasing discomfort induced by cramps.” – Suzanne Trupin
PMS or Premenstrual Syndrome is an extremely common problem among women and almost 85% of women, between 20 years old and 40 years old, suffer from PMS. It is associated with a collection of emotional and physical symptoms that is experienced during the time of ovulation or Luteal phase of the Menstruation cycle. PMS produces physical symptoms such as Joint or muscle pain, headache, fatigue, weight gain related to fluid retention, abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, acne flare-ups, and constipation or diarrhea. These symptoms are accompanied by a constellation of psychological symptoms such as tension or anxiety, depressed mood, crying spells, mood swings and irritability or anger, appetite changes and food cravings, trouble falling asleep (insomnia), social withdrawal, and poor concentration. Around 5% of women are disabled by extremely severe symptoms. PMS is often accompanied with depression and called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) and can be dangerous as the suicide rate for patients with depression is much higher in the second half of the menstrual cycle. Rather than improve with age, PMS can get worse as patients age and approach menopause.
For most women PMS is left untreated, with the women simply putting up with the misery. But for some drugs are prescribed such as antidepressants, NSAIDs, diuretics, and hormones. These are all accompanied by significant side effects. There is, therefore, a need to find safe and effective treatment for the torment of PMS. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve the physical and psychological state of women and men and women with high levels of mindfulness experience milder PMS symptoms. It would seem reasonable to examine whether training in a mindfulness technique, specifically yoga training, might be helpful relieving the symptoms of PMS.
In today’s Research News article “Effect of Yoga Exercise on Premenstrual Symptoms among Female Employees in Taiwan.” See:
or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:
Tsai recruited female employees of a large manufacturing company and provided them with a 12-week yoga program with twice a week sessions of 50 minutes. The yoga included breathing, posture, and meditation exercises. Before and after training the women completed measurements of premenstrual and menstrual symptoms, stress, sleep, alcohol intake, exercise and general health.
They found that after yoga training the women’s menstrual pain, use of analgesics, and body pain was lower. Also, the women reported less premenstrual abdominal swelling, breast tenderness, abdominal cramps, and cold sweats. In addition, the decreased menstrual pain was associated with increases in physical function, bodily pain, general health perception, vitality/energy, social function, and mental health. So the yoga practice appeared to reduce both premenstrual and menstrual physical symptoms.
The study results are very encouraging and suggest that yoga practice can be beneficial in relieving women’s symptoms surrounding menstruation. The study, however did not have a control group for comparison and so conclusions must be tempered. It is possible that participation in any program to improve their health and well-being would produce similar effects. Nevertheless, the results justify and encourage more extensive controlled research studies on the application of yoga practice to the relief of troublesome symptoms related to women’s menstrual cycle.
So, improve premenstrual syndrome with yoga.
“The benefits of yoga in relieving the symptoms of PMS are countless and difficult to list. Yoga is like a magical wand that touches our lives to bless us with a fit, flexible and healthy body,flawless, glowing skin, peaceful mind and great overall health. The benefits of yoga are not only limited to the physical level, it transcends the body to bring harmony between the body and the soul and fill the mind with happiness.” – Deblina Biswas
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Tsai, S.-Y. (2016). Effect of Yoga Exercise on Premenstrual Symptoms among Female Employees in Taiwan. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(7), 721. http://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13070721
Yoga classes designed for women with premenstrual syndrome are available, but their efficacy is unclear. We investigated the effects of 12 weeks’ yoga exercise (yoga intervention) on premenstrual symptoms in menstruating females in Taiwan. Sixty-four subjects completed the yoga intervention, and before and after the intervention filled out a structured self-report questionnaire about their demographics, personal lifestyle, menstrual status, baseline menstrual pain scores, premenstrual symptoms, and health-related quality of life. Of 64 subjects, 90.6% reported experiencing menstrual pain during menstruation. After the yoga intervention, subjects reported decreased use of analgesics during menstruation (p = 0.0290) and decreased moderate or severe effects of menstrual pain on work (p = 0.0011). The yoga exercise intervention was associated with the improvement of the scale of physical function (p = 0.0340) and bodily pain (p = 0.0087) of the SF-36, and significantly decreased abdominal swelling (p = 0.0011), breast tenderness (p = 0.0348), abdominal cramps (p = 0.0016), and cold sweats (p = 0.0143). Menstrual pain mitigation after yoga exercise correlated with improvement in six scales of the SF-36 (physical function, bodily pain, general health perception, vitality/energy, social function, mental health). Employers can educate female employees about the benefits of regular exercise such as yoga, which may decrease premenstrual distress and improve female employee health.