Background: Holistic approaches are needed to complement existing therapies for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common disorder affecting the health of reproductive-aged females.
Objectives: To determine whether thrice-weekly mindful yoga practice improves endocrine, cardiometabolic, or psychological parameters in women with PCOS.
Methods: Thirty-one women with PCOS between the ages of 23 and 42 years and living in Erie County, Pennsylvania, were recruited for this randomized, controlled study arm, which was part of a larger 3-part investigation. Women were randomly assigned to either a mindful yoga intervention group or no intervention (control) group. Group classes were 1 hour, thrice weekly. Initial endocrine, cardiometabolic, and psychological measurements were compared with measurements taken after the 3-month intervention period. Measurements included free testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone, androstenedione, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, fasting blood glucose and insulin levels, and anxiety and depression scores.
Results: Twenty-two women completed the 3-month intervention period, 13 in the mindful yoga group and 9 in the control group. Paired comparisons of pre- and postintervention parameters indicated that women who completed the mindful yoga intervention had significantly lower free testosterone levels (5.96 vs 4.24 pg/mL; P<.05) and dehydroepiandrosterone levels that trended lower. Improved testosterone may persist for several months after completion of a 3-month, thrice-weekly mindful yoga intervention. Additionally, improvements were seen in measures of anxiety and depression.
Conclusions: The improvements observed suggest that regular mindful yoga practice can be a useful complementary therapeutic option for women with PCOS, particularly for improving serum androgen levels, a hallmark feature of PCOS. This improvement occurred in the absence of weight loss and may persist even if there is a lapse in practice. (ClinicalTrials.gov No. NCT03383484)