Many of us experience different feelings throughout our period, this is due to the biochemical changes happening in our body throughout the month. There are times of the month we have increased levels of energy and enthusiasm; our skin feels bright and clear.
However, just before our period, in what is called our Luteal phase of our cycle, we can feel some more negative symptoms of our menstrual cycle.
As our period gets closer, progesterone and oestrogen levels drop, causing mood changes, concentration problems and physical changes which can feel overwhelming and usually are only relieved when the menstrual flow begins.
This is commonly called Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). According to a Monash University study[i] about 3 – 8 per cent of women suffer significant disabling PMS at some stage during their reproductive years. The commonly reported symptoms include:
- Weight gain;
- Abdominal bloating and constipation;
- Fluid retention;
- Breast swelling and tenderness: this may be due to the increase in progesterone at this time;
- Increased appetite compared with other days of the cycle;
- Reduced libido;
- Headaches: these range from mild through to full-blown migraines: and
- Emotional changes: Anxiety, nervous tension, irritability, depression, fatigue, reduced ability to concentrate, lowered self-esteem and sense of being less able to cope are common symptoms.
Aromatherapy is ideally suited to help relieve problems associated with menstruation. Especially the more commonly experienced problem, period pain and menstrual cramping, caused by spasm or contraction of the uterine muscles. Very gentle massage, resting in a bath or using a compress with a hot water bottle over the abdomen with a blend of antispasmodic oils such as clary sage, lavender and Roman chamomile will help to disperse the pain*.
There are oils which have been shown to promote and regulate menstrual flow, helping those who are experiencing irregular periods[ii]. Such oils include: Roman chamomile, German chamomile, clary sage, fennel seed, lavender and sweet marjoram.
Women who suffer from abnormally heavy periods may find oils such as rose, geranium and cypress helpful as they have traditionally been used to have a regulatory effect on the menstrual cycle. If you are able to afford it, remember Rose can be so beneficial for many menstrual concerns since it has wonderful regulatory effects on the cycle, is commonly used as a uterine tonic and has a wonderful nurturing and soothing effect on your emotions.
Aromatherapy and massage can assist you get through some of the tougher days of your cycle. A combination of therapeutic touch, the active components of the essential oils, and the well-deserved time out can be all the difference for you.
If you would like to experience better cycles, contact me to organise a one on one consultation and treatment at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Please note, this is a complementary therapy, for women who a suffering from a low to medium level of pain, and who have no other menstrual health conditions. However, if you are like the many women who suffer crippling pain, I am not suggestion that a gentle massage is going to cut it! Currently there is the world’s largest study is being conducted into period pain to help women understand what is normal.[iii]
Lead researcher Dr Mike Armour from Western Sydney University, said the survey, sponsored by a sanitary products company, was the largest of its kind in the world. “There’s no such thing as one single normal period, there is a range,” Dr Armour said. “Some mild pain on the first 48 hours of the period, especially in the first few years … is not abnormal. “But pain which occurs through the whole menstrual period that is severe enough [to] warrant having to take time off school or work, and especially if it impacts other day-to-day activities as well certainly is something that should be investigated.”
Dr Armour hoped that arming young women with better knowledge about periods would lead to earlier diagnosis of conditions like endometriosis, which can commonly go undiagnosed for up to a decade. “Women feel that pain is just part of being a woman, [that] it’s normal [and] it’s something they need to put up with,” he said. “It is certainly not normal to have pain which really affects your day-to-day life.” If you experience high levels of pain, aromatherapy may assist you to cope with the emotional aspects of your situation. Aromatherapy and massage can help with soothing, calming and relaxing you. Try using a blend of essential oils in a diffuser at home for this also.
[ii] The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Second Edition2008. Salvatore Battaglia
[iii] World’s largest study into period pain to help women understand what is normal https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-24/period-pain-study-to-help-women-know-whats-normal/9480042
Photo by Sarah Comeau on Unsplash