Yoga for PCOS: 5 benefits to ease symptoms

Polycystic ovary syndrome, commonly known as PCOS, affects approximately 1 in 10 people in the UK with ovaries (1). Although medication and supplements can be useful treatments for PCOS, a lot of people with PCOS are often looking for a more holistic approach to managing their symptoms. So, is yoga for PCOS beneficial?

Symptoms of PCOS range from irregular menstrual cycles, hirsutism, and acne to infertility, reduced quality of life and even binge eating, anxiety and depression. PCOS is characterised by imbalances of various hormones including testosterone, insulin and stress hormones like cortisol.

What are the benefits of yoga?

Yoga is a group term for the physical, mental and spiritual practices that originated in ancient India. The aim of yoga is to control (yoke) and calm the mind. There are a variety of different schools of yoga, practices and goals. The term “yoga” in the Western world often refers to a modern, revised form of Hatha yoga. This iteration of yoga is considered a posture-based physical fitness, stress relief and relaxation technique (2).

There are many benefits of yoga ranging from physical benefits like increased flexibility, increased muscle strength, and improved cardiovascular and circulatory health as well as mental health benefits such as stress management, improved focus and increased concentration (3).

What are the benefits of yoga for PCOS?

PCOS is a chronic condition which means it cannot be cured. But, the various symptoms of PCOS can be managed through a variety of lifestyle changes, and yoga may be a helpful tool for symptom management.

PCOS symptoms are often driven by insulin resistance, increased androgen levels and high-stress levels. Regular yoga practice may be able to improve symptoms of PCOS. The research suggests that yoga may improve anxiety, glucose metabolism, hormone levels, and stress levels in people with PCOS. Read more about the benefits below.

1. Yoga may improve anxiety in people with PCOS

A group of ninety 15-18-year-old people assigned female at birth were sorted into two groups. One group practised yoga every day for 1 hour per day for three months. The other group did physical exercises for an hour a day instead. The group who practised yoga daily had significant improvements in symptoms of anxiety (4).

2. Regular yoga practice might improve glucose metabolism in people with PCOS

A study investigated the impact of practising suryanamaskara, asanas, pranayama, and meditation for 1 hour per day each day for 12 weeks. They found that fasting blood glucose levels and HOMA-IR levels were significantly improved in those who undertook the daily yoga practice (5).

3. Yoga may improve hormone levels in people with PCOS and improve menstrual frequency

Ninety people with PCOS practised yoga daily and, compared to those who exercised daily instead, had improved anti-mullerian hormone (AMH), luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), testosterone and prolactin. This group also had improved menstrual frequency (i.e. their period came more often!) (6).

4. Yoga may reduce androgen (testosterone) levels

A small study of twenty-two people looked at the impact of undertaking a three-month mindful yoga programme. The people assigned to the yoga programme had significantly lower free testosterone levels (7).

5. Regular and consistent yoga practice may improve the quality of life in people with PCOS

People with PCOS may have a lower quality of life due to the symptoms associated with PCOS. Consistent yoga practice may help to improve the quality of life in people with PCOS. A study where participants practised yoga daily for three months saw a significant improvement in the quality of life in participants (8).

So, should everyone with PCOS do yoga?

These benefits definitely seem promising for the effects of yoga on people with PCOS. A systematic review of eleven studies found that yoga therapy may significantly decrease menstrual irregularity, clinical hyperandrogenism, fasting blood glucose, fasting insulin, and HOMA-IR value (9). But, the amount and strength of evidence supporting yoga for PCOS are, unfortunately, low. This means that more research is required to be able to determine if everyone with PCOS should do yoga.

Instead, if you enjoy yoga then adding it to your routine is likely to be beneficial to you. This is because yoga is great for improving physical strength, flexibility and cardiovascular health. Yoga can also improve stress levels and mental well-being. All of these benefits are likely to be helpful in improving PCOS symptoms.

Plus, yoga is an accessible, low-cost and low-risk intervention for PCOS. So, to conclude, if you like yoga or are inspired to try it, then go for it! Namaste.

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign In


Reset Password

Please enter your username or email address, you will receive a link to create a new password via email.