You don’t have to endure menstrual problems. Yoga could offer a solution, say experts

Eight to 10 hours spent in an office chair, not to mention sitting through long and weary commutes; eating canteen food doused generously in oil to make up for the skipped breakfast; a stressful day trying to balance office and household chores; a hastily put together and belatedly eaten dinner, followed by an exhausted sleep almost immediately…. Is it any surprise that so many women in sedentary jobs are obese, suffer hormonal imbalance, painful and irregular menstrual cycles, and experience difficulty in conceiving? “Fifteen of the 30-40 patients I see everyday come with complaints of irregular menstruation. And the numbers are rising,” says Dr. Nithya Ramamurthy, senior obstetrician-gynaecologist, Fortis Malar. Meanwhile, irregular menstruation can cause much more than troublesome periods. Prolonged amenorrhea affects bone density. And cessation of the menstrual cycle might cause osteoporosis, fragile bones and susceptibility to fractures.

We tend to forget that staying active is a requisite not just for good muscle tone and a lithe frame, but also a regular menstrual cycle and general well-being. Often, obesity, hormonal imbalance, polycystic ovaries, and irregular, long or painful menstruation go hand in hand. However, the good news is irregular menstruation is not an irrevocable condition. Simple modifications in lifestyle — practising yoga or engaging in some form of physical activity, and eating the right diet can reverse the problem.

Get moving

Remember, being busy is not synonymous with being physically active. Today, while women’s workload has grown, physical exertion has decreased, thanks to gadgets.

“Women don’t find time for themselves; it is hardly a priority. We have to create awareness on how important daily exercise is for their own health as well as that of their families. Every woman should think: I am important and deserve the time spent working out. Yoga, swimming, exercise, dancing… take your pick,” Dr. Nithya advocates. Considering that irregular menstruation, blood pressure, diabetes and other ills affect women in sedentary jobs, organisations could introduce half-hour fitness sessions during office hours, every day. “This will only enhance productivity, not diminish it,” she says.

The yoga option

Yoga is now favoured by many gynaecologists. Consider 29-year-old Ananya, a young advocate who had been having irregular periods since menarche, and had not been able to conceive years after marriage. But, ever since she began practising yoga regularly, she lost several kg over three months, her periods have become regular, and she has conceived. “Yoga improved her metabolism and helped her restore hormonal balance,” says Ananya’s yoga therapist K. Geetha, who offers therapy in consultation with allopathic practitioners.

“For girls whose menstruation has stopped or gone awry because of stress, regular practice of yoga accompanied by breathing exercises (pranayama) helps,” informs Geetha, adding, “even working women who remain seated for long hours can benefit immensely from a short session of yoga and breathing exercise/meditation.”

Moderation, the key

Too much or too little exercise affects the menstrual cycle. “Anaemia and hypothyroidism too can lead to polycystic ovaries and irregular menstruation. When it comes to diet, too little calcium or too much of milk intake (which increases the person’s prolactin levels) can cause problem,” informs D. Jeyameena, consultant gynaecologist. The obsession with size-zero, improper eating schedules/diet and consequent anaemia can cause irregular menstruation.