PEAK TESTOSTERONE

Yoga and Menopause

Many of you men reading this article are on HRT (testosterone therapy). You are now walking around with the testosterone and libido of a 25-year-old, yet you are afraid to walk through the minefield to get within ten feet of your wife Why? Because she is not so fortunate. She has also lost her hormones but has no replacement therapy to help her. Yes, she's going through menopause and she is hurting.

Of course, all women experience at some point the neurological and biological changes in response to the altered hormonal environment typical of menopause. However, even though menopause is a normal, natural event in all women s life, it is usually not a fun one. So is there any hope and any help for you and your woman? Hopefully, one day there will be some research-backed hormonal therapies, but in the meantime you have a powerful tool in your arsenal: yoga. A high percentage of woman love yoga. Most of your wives and girlfriends will not go to a gym or hit the track. But, if you get them a membership to a yoga studio, they'll be there religiously week after week.

Many men dismiss yoga, but, before you do, let me tell you a fact: it is a proven bedroom booster - something that we will cover in more detail below. Yes, that means that you don t have to tick off making love from the to do list, mon. Pierre. Just look at all the menopausal symptoms that have been shown in one study after another to be improved by yoga: :

1. HPA Axis. Many menopausal women suffer from overexcitation of their HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) axis. This can occur because of depression or other reasons as well. [1] This is where yoga can step in, since it is a proven HPA soother. [2]

2. Mood. Study after study after study has shown that yoga helps mood. And what premenopausal or menopausal woman does not need a little help with mood, eh? For example, it helped with "tension-anxiety, depression-dejection, anger-hostility, fatigue-inertia, and confusion-bewilderment" in psychiatric patients. [3] A study on college students put yoga head-to-head with other forms of exercise such as swimming and fencing. Only yoga substantially improved mood and participants were "significantly less anxious, tense, depressed, angry, fatigued, and confused." [4] (Another very similar study found swimming and yoga approximately equal in mood-improving benefits.) [5] And one interesting study on young, professional musicians showed that yoga helped them mood disturbances (and performance anxiety). [6]

3. Sexual Function. Menopause can really put the brakes on your love making attempts. Lubrication and desire go down for almost all women during this time. The good news is that yoga can help with One study of healthy, sexually active women showed that yoga helped with MANY parameters of sexual function, including "desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, pain, and overall satisfaction." What else could you ask for, big boy? [7] Also, guess which group showed the greatest improvement? Women over the age of 45! (The yoga was done daily for one hour. See the reference and it talks about the 22 yoga postures used in this study.)

4. Depression. Some women experience depression during menopause, especially women who have a long perimenopause.. [8] Can yoga help these women. The answer is that many studies and many styles of yoga have been found to help with depression. The most popular form of yoga in the U.S. is probably Iyengar yoga and it was found to significantly improve depression in young adults. [9] Iyengar yoga emphasizes poses or postures. However, the yoga traditions that emphasize breating and meditation have also done very well in studies on depression. For example, one study of SKY (Sudarshan Kriya Yoga) found results almost as good as electroshock therapy and a pharmaceutical - not bad for something with virtually no side effects. [10]

5. Anxiety. Menopause and anxiety are almost synonymous. One study found that the severity and frequency of hot flashes were associated with anxiety levels. [11] What can help? Yoga is a proven anxiety-buster and much of it's effectiveness probably comes from its ability to increase GABA levels. [12] Some anxiety drugs work by increasing GABA levels and, therefore, it appears that yoga is a more natural alternative sans side effects.

6. Cardiovascular Disease. Heart disease increases rapidly at menopause and is probably explained primarily by insulin resistance (prediabetes). This is an area where yoga excels and one review found that " beneficial changes overall in several IRS-related indices of CVD risk, including glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, lipid profiles, anthropometric characteristics, blood pressure, oxidative stress, coagulation profiles, sympathetic activation, and cardiovagal function." [13] By the way, there is signficant evidence that the sexual health of women is just as related to cardiovascular and endothelial health as our own, something I cover in my link on Female Libido and Viagra.

7. Stress and Cortisol. Yoga can also help to combat the stress and pain associated with menopause. Many studies have shown that yoga can decrease pain and stress. One of the most intesting was one with Hatha yoha where the women not only decreased stress levels but also their baseline cortisol. [14] Of course, cortisol is a proven neuron-killer and has been tied to the aging of the hippocampus. Cortisol also increases the risk for cardiovascular disease and is tied to various psychiatric disorders.

Of course, what really needs to happen is for someone to come up with a safe HRT protocol for women. (The issue is breast cancer risk.) However, in the meantime, practicing yoga during those premenopausal years can make the transition into this phase SO much easier. And, of course, having her start up yoga during menopause will make a big difference as well. Many women feel helpless during this time, but yoga can help her gain control back over her life. And, yes, she will probably share those benefits with you in due time.

Remember: all the benefits on cortisol and stress can come your way too. Plus, yoga builds core strength in some of the deeper muscle tissues and prevents injury by developing flexibiity. So don't just keep yourself busy while the wife is out doing yoga: consider making it something you both do together.

Every women is different as far as what form of exercise she enjoys. See this link on Female Libido and Exercise and Other Research-Backed Ways to Boost Her Desire (without being obnoxious)!

GUEST AUTHOR:  Many thanks to Cristina C., certified Yoga Nidra Instructor, Hypnotherapist and Life Coach. 

REFERENCES:

1)  Maturitas, 20 Sep 2006, 55(2):150-155, "Menopause, mild psychological stress and salivary cortisol: Influence of long-term hormone replacement therapy (HRT)"

2) The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. January 2010, 16(1): 3-12, "The Health Benefits of Yoga and Exercise: A Review of Comparison Studies"

3) Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 2005, 28(4):399-402, "The Effects of Yoga on Mood in Psychiatric Inpatients"

4) Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 1988, 59(2), "Stress Reduction and Mood Enhancement in Four Exercise Modes: Swimming, Body Conditioning, Hatha Yoga, and Fencing"

5) Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1992, 75:1331-1343, "MOOD ALTERATION WITH YOGA AND SWIMMING-AEROBIC EXERCISE MAY NOT BE NECESSARY"

6) Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback, 2009, 34:279-289, "Yoga Ameliorates Performance Anxiety and Mood Disturbance in Young Professional Musicians"

7) http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Womens_Health_Watch/2010/April/yoga-may-help-improve-womens-sexual-function

8) Annals of Epidemiology, May 1994, 4(3):214 220, "A longitudinal analysis of the association between menopause and depression Results from the Massachusetts women's health study"

9) Alternative Therapies in health and Medicine, "A YOGA INTERVENTION FOR YOUNG ADULTS WITH ELEVATED SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION"

10) Journal of Affective Disorders, Jan-Mar 2000, 57(1-3):255 259, "Antidepressant efficacy of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) in melancholia: a randomized comparison with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and imipramine"

11) Menopause, May/June 2005, 12(3):258-266, "The role of anxiety and hormonal changes in menopausal hot flashes"

12) Altern Complement Med, 2010 Nov, 16(11):1145-52, "Effects of yoga versus walking on mood, anxiety, and brain GABA levels: a randomized controlled MRS study"

13) J Am Board Fam Med, November-December 2005, 18(6):491-519, "Risk Indices Associated with the Insulin Resistance Syndrome, Cardiovascular Disease, and Possible Protection with Yoga: A Systematic Review"

14) Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Oct 2004, 28(2):114-118, "Effects of hatha yoga and african dance on perceived stress, affect, and salivary cortisol"