Thursday, February 4, 2010

Does Yoga Improve Female Sexuality?

Female Sexual Dysfunctions (FSD) are common and often do not get the attention necessary since the topic may be of embarrassment to the female patient or physician. FSD is usually categorized into 4 major groups: Low Sexual Desire, Low Arousal, Lack of Orgasm, and Pain and must cause distress to the woman. At the present time, there are limited medication treatments for FSD, and current therapies are generally limited to hormone replacement (estrogen or testosterone), local creams, herbals, couples counseling, and lifestyle changes. Any one of the FSDs can lead to low physical and emotional satisfaction.

A recent study looked at whether yoga has a positive effect on FSD, since it is becoming widely popular in Western societies. 22 different positions were evaluated. Some common ones were: Kapalbhati, Yog mutra, Halasan, Dhanurasan and Chakarasan. Yoga was advised to be performed for an hour twice a day, or as much as the participants could tolerate. Three repetitions of each pose was suggested. After yoga was completed differential relaxation with slow breathing and relaxing the muscles that were just stretched was performed.

All domains of FSD were improved: Desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and pain, with an overall improvement of nearly 20% of all these domains collectively. Overall, 72% of women reported improvement in satisfaction about their sexual life after yoga. Women over 45 years old noticed more improvement versus those under 45. The greatest improvement seen in women over 45 was in arousal and pain, and the least improvement was in desire. In women under 45 years old, the greatest improvement was in orgasm and satisfaction, and the least improvement was desire. Lubrication and pain also improved significantly in women older than 45 years.

What is it about yoga that has a positive effect on FSD?

Yoga is known to have beneficial effects on lumbar muscle tone, depression, high blood pressure, peripheral neuropathy, anxiety, joint disease, stress, labor pain, epilepsy, pain, addiction, infertility, psychosomatic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and quality of life overall. In general, stress reduction appears to be a common thread, as well as improved blood flow from stretching. Although, it is not known exactly how long yoga must be performed in order to achieve improvement in FSD, but it can be said that improvements can be made in FSD over time. Considering the non-pharmacological nature of yoga, there is little reason to not try it if FSD exists.

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