Can yoga improve a woman's sexual function?

Jan L. Shifren, MD
Reproductive Endocrinology
Rooted in Indian philosophy, yoga is an ancient method of relaxation, exercise, and healing that's gained a wide following in the U.S. Research suggests that yoga can ease anxiety, arthritis, and a host of other mental and physical woes. Yoga -- from the Sanskrit word meaning "union" -- may even enhance women's sexual function, according to a 2009 study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

The study involved 40 sexually active women, ages 22 to 55, who were enrolled in a yoga camp in India. Each filled out a standard sexual function questionnaire at the beginning and the end of the 12-week camp, which entailed an hour of yoga practice each day followed by breathing and relaxation. Researchers found that the women's sexual function scores in all six domains (desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain) improved at the end of the camp -- especially among women who were over 45 years of age. And nearly three-quarters of the women said their sex lives had improved following the yoga camp.

If you'd like to try yoga, classes and instructional DVDs abound. By some estimates, 75% of all American gyms now offer yoga classes. Many different styles are available and although many forms of yoga are safe, some are strenuous and may not be appropriate for everyone. In particular, elderly people or those with mobility problems may want to check first with a clinician before trying yoga.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.