Objective: To systematically review the peer-reviewed literature regarding the effects of self-administered mind-body therapies on menopausal symptoms.
Methods: To identify qualifying studies, we searched 10 scientific databases and scanned bibliographies of relevant review papers and all identified articles. The methodological quality of all studies was assessed systematically using predefined criteria.
Results: Twenty-one papers representing 18 clinical trials from 6 countries met our inclusion criteria, including 12 randomized controlled trials (N=719), 1 non-randomized controlled trial (N=58), and 5 uncontrolled trials (N=105). Interventions included yoga and/or meditation-based programs, tai chi, and other relaxation practices, including muscle relaxation and breath-based techniques, relaxation response training, and low-frequency sound-wave therapy. Eight of the nine studies of yoga, tai chi, and meditation-based programs reported improvement in overall menopausal and vasomotor symptoms; six of seven trials indicated improvement in mood and sleep with yoga-based programs, and four studies reported reduced musculoskeletal pain. Results from the remaining nine trials suggest that breath-based and other relaxation therapies also show promise for alleviating vasomotor and other menopausal symptoms, although intergroup findings were mixed. Most studies reviewed suffered methodological or other limitations, complicating interpretation of findings.
Conclusions: Collectively, findings of these studies suggest that yoga-based and certain other mind-body therapies may be beneficial for alleviating specific menopausal symptoms. However, the limitations characterizing most studies hinder interpretation of findings and preclude firm conclusions regarding efficacy. Additional large, methodologically sound trials are needed to determine the effects of specific mind-body therapies on menopausal symptoms, examine long-term outcomes, and investigate underlying mechanisms.
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