A woman’s body is a natural wonder. By design, it can create, grow, and nurture new human life. But this design isn’t all miracles and excitement. For many premenopausal women, the monthly cycle that makes new life possible is also the cause of significant discomfort. If you experience painful cramping with your period, you understand how painful your body can feel, and you are not alone!
Over half of all women experience menstrual cramping, also called dysmenorrhea, regularly. For up to 15% of us, the pain is so severe it can impair our everyday activities. While there is no known cure for this condition, many essential oils can ease the first few days of your period and the cramps that accompany them.
What Causes Menstrual Cramps?
While many women experience cramping regularly with menstruation, not all know the underlying cause. To better understand why a woman’s body experiences this type of pain monthly, a refresher of the female reproductive cycle is necessary.
Each month a woman releases an egg from one of her ovaries in a process called ovulation. If the egg remains unfertilized, it is discharged by the body, along with the uterine lining, two weeks after ovulation during menstruation. The changes that the body undergoes in releasing the egg play a large part in menstrual cramping.
When your period begins, your body experiences some of the same transitions that occur during labor. Hormone-like substances, known as prostaglandins, are released into your body to stop progesterone production, triggering the same uterine contractions as a laboring mother, on a smaller scale.
These contractions expel the uterine lining, but in women with high levels of certain prostaglandins, they also result in the discomfort of menstrual cramps. Additionally, the high levels of leukotrienes released during menstruation heighten the sensitivity of pain receptors inside a woman’s uterus, increasing the discomfort she may already feel.
Severe Menstrual Pain And Cramping
Mild to moderate cramping during your period is normal and is caused by hormone shifts and contractions in your uterine wall. But if you experience severe even crippling pain in conjunction with your menstruation, it may be a sign of a more serious issue.
Severe discomfort during your period is called secondary dysmenorrhea and may indicate a significant reproductive disorder. Some common causes of secondary dysmenorrhea are as follows:
When the tissue that lines the uterus during a woman’s menstrual cycle, called endometrium, is found outside the uterus, on other organs such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or bladder, the woman suffers from endometriosis. This condition commonly causes debilitating pain at any point during a woman’s cycle, but particularly when she is having her period.
This condition is characterized by endometrial tissue growing inside the muscle wall of the uterus, rather than lining its interior. Excruciating pain may be experienced during menstruation in women with adenomyosis.
Fibroids are growths that can occur anywhere outside, inside, or in the uterine wall. When uterine contractions occur during menstruation, these fibroids cause acute pain to any surrounding tissue.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
The ovaries in women with PCOS produce excess androgen, a male sex hormone. As a result, numerous small cysts form on the ovaries. These cysts can cause great pain during menstruation and are also characterized by exceptionally heavy bleeding during periods.
If you suspect your severe cramping is a symptom of a more serious condition, seek the advice of a trusted physician. Many of these conditions are manageable with a proper diagnosis.
Ease Menstrual Cramping With The 10 Best Essential Oils
If you are looking for pain relief during your period, you’ve come to the right place. Essential oils are an excellent way to alleviate some of the discomfort menstrual cramps can cause. Continue reading to learn about the ten best essential oils for easing period pain.
Marjoram is one of the most useful essential oils for reducing painful cramps during menstruation. It has relaxant properties that release muscle tension when used, which dilates the blood vessels and allows blood flow to increase.
Marjoram also contains compounds that are naturally anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It reduces the swelling caused by prostaglandin release and improves your level of comfort by dulling the pain of menstrual cramps. Its unique combination of properties makes marjoram a go-to essential oil for painful periods.
2. Clary Sage
Clary sage contains hormone-like components that mimic those naturally occurring in the female body. For years, this oil has been used across Europe to ease many reproductive system issues in women including menopausal discomfort, menstrual cramping, and irregular cycles.
Clary sage is well known for its high chemical concentration of esters. These compounds are proven to relax muscle tension and spasms while relieving any stress that may accompany them.
Geranium oil is widely used for pain reduction as it has analgesic properties. That in combination with its anti-inflammatory components make geranium oil beneficial for those suffering from menstrual cramping.
4. German Chamomile
German chamomile is both antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory. It contains compounds that reduce the tension experienced in the uterine lining during menstrual contractions and also reduce swelling that accompanies menstruation.
German chamomile is also delightful aromatherapy support for any negative thoughts or emotions menstrual cramp sufferers may experience.
This essential oil is an excellent blood flow regulator and is known to improve circulation with regular use. It can help establish healthy blood flow to the uterus during menses, and its anti-inflammatory properties reduce swelling in the uterine wall. Moderate analgesic properties in ginger oil can ease the discomfort of cramping during menstruation.
Ylang-ylang oil is best used to treat the emotional repercussions of painful periods. Its antidepressant properties are documented to calm mood swings. It is commonly recommended as a mild sedative in times of stress, which is useful to those whose period cramping may be moderate to severe. It is one of the essential oils included in the Paisible blend.
While ylang-ylang oils primary benefit to menstrual cramp sufferers is emotional support, it does have mild antispasmodic properties that may reduce intense cramping.
7. Sweet Fennel
Period irregularity is one indicator that a woman may experience menstrual cramping. Sweet fennel has helped many women regulate previously irregular menstrual cycles by reducing monthly hormonal fluctuation. Fennel oil is also antispasmodic and can ease uterine spasms, making your period more comfortable. It is contained in the Ange blend.
This essential oil does more than just smell lovely. While its signature scent is well known for calming the most frayed nerves, lavender oil can do much more. Researchers at Tehran University of Medical Sciences conducted a study on women who suffer from recurrent cramping with menstruation.
These researchers observed women who used lavender essential oil as aromatherapy to ease cramping alongside women who did not. The study found women who did not use lavender oil were 6.8 times more likely to experience painful menstruation. Lavender essential oil works by reducing contractions in the uterus, thereby lessening any pain they might cause. Why not go for the world’s best, Bulgarian lavender essential oil.
Because cinnamon oil is a natural analgesic, massaging it into your lower abdomen will help alleviate any pain you may experience with menstruation. Cinnamon is also anti-inflammatory and stimulates blood flow, which means it can make your periods more comfortable and efficient.
Like sweet fennel oil, cypress essential oil is known to aid in regulating menstrual cycles in women with irregular periods. Once periods occur at regular intervals, many women experience a reduction in cramping discomfort.
Due to its antispasmodic properties, cypress oil also stimulates blood flow by dilating blood vessels in the body, making uterine contractions more productive and reducing unnecessary pain.
4 Best Essential Oil Recipes For That Time Of The Month
Many essential oils combine to make highly effective recipes for treating menstrual cramps. I have included a few of the best combinations below.
Recipe 1: Proven Relief For Painful Periods
The recipe below was given a clinical trial published by The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research in May 2012. When used in aromatherapy massage each day between periods, trial participants experienced a significant reduction in the intensity of menstrual pain compared with previous periods, as well as fewer days with menstrual cramping.
- 2.5 ounces of your favorite carrier oil (I use jojoba oil) or unscented massage lotion
- 20 drops lavender essential oil
- 12 drops clary sage essential oil
- 10 drops marjoram essential oil
Combine all ingredients thoroughly in a glass bottle or container. Gently massage into the abdomen and lower back every day between periods for best results. Store in a cool dark place.
Recipe 2: Comforting Menstrual Relief Tonic
This recipe is an on the go option for menstrual cramp relief. All ingredients combine in a 2 fl. oz. roller bottle, for easy access at home or out and about.
- 8 drops clary sage essential oil
- 6 drops marjoram essential oil
- 7 drops fennel essential oil
- 5 drops ginger essential oil
- 4 drops geranium essential oil
- 2 drops cinnamon essential oil
- 2 ounces of fractionated coconut oil to top up (or your favorite carrier oil)
Combine all essential oils together in the roller bottle. Fill any remaining bottle space with fractionated coconut oil. Shake well before each use. Massage tonic onto abdomen as needed when experiencing menstrual cramps.
Recipe 3: Calming Aromatherapy Blend
The delicious scent of this blend soothes stress while the essential oils calm period pain.
- 3 ounces of your favorite carrier oil (I use hazelnut for this recipe)
- 10 drops cinnamon essential oil
- 10 drops clary sage essential oil
- 15-20 drops geranium essential oil
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 5 drops neroli oil
Mix all ingredients together in a glass container. Massage onto lower abdomen as needed for cramping and aroma therapeutic relief.
Recipe 4: Find Your Balance Blend
If you have irregular periods, this blend of essential oils can help balance the hormones that may contribute to the problem. Having your hormones in check will ease menstrual cramping considerably.
- 1 ounce of carrier oil (almond)
- 7 drops clary sage oil
- 3 drops geranium oil
- 5 drops ylang-ylang oil
Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a glass bottle. This blend is perfect for use during massages, but can also be added to a warm bath with excellent results.
Having covered essential oils and recipes, let’s now have a brief look at some home remedies to help you deal with this painful monthly cycle.
6 Home Remedies For Menstrual Cramps
In addition to using essential oils to help manage menstrual cramp pain, there are several natural remedies that will alleviate the soreness you experience during you period. Try these during your next period for some relief.
1. Consider Using Herbs
Cramp bark and black haw are two complimentary herbs safe to use in the days before anticipated menses to prevent the onset of painful cramping. They are also highly effective antispasmodics and reduce the impact of uterine contractions, which in turn reduces the pain they often cause.
2. Modify Your Diet
If the food you consume daily is high in refined sugar or salt, contains polyhydrogenated or trans fats, or if you regularly eat dairy-based products, they may contribute to the severity of your monthly cramping. Eliminating or reducing these elements in your diet in the week preceding menses may significantly alleviate the pain you experience.
3. Consider Multivitamins
If your diet lacks nutritional value, your body will not function as well as it should. Adding a high-quality whole food multivitamin will increase your body’s overall functionality, including appropriately regulating your monthly cycle.
4. Take Vitamin A and Magnesium Supplements
Vitamin A plays a vital role in regulating a woman’s estrogen levels. With proper estrogen regulation, your period will be less uncomfortable.
Magnesium has long been known to relax smooth muscle tissue, the type of tissue responsible for uterine contractions during menses. Taking a magnesium supplement can considerably reduce the severity and duration of menstrual cramps, lessening any pain you may experience. This is the one I take on a regular basis and has helped me tremendously to deal with menstrual pain.
5. Heat Things Up
It’s a wonder what a little heat therapy can do for painful periods. You can use a heating pad or hot water bottle with equal effectiveness. Just apply your warm compress to your lower abdomen during menstruation to help relieve cramping discomfort.
A good acupuncturist can regulate blood flow in the abdominal cavity by accessing certain points on the body during a session. Acupuncture also relaxes your nervous system, slowing down and lowering the intensity of muscle contractions in the uterus.
Study after study prove that this alternative medicine is equally as effective in reducing pain and inflammation as over the counter medications. Consider scheduling an appointment on or around your next anticipated period and see if it works for you.
The Bottom Line: Some Much-Needed Relief
Your period doesn’t have to be painful each month. Essential oils are an effective, natural way to alleviate your menstrual cramp discomfort. Use them in combination with some of the above home based remedies to break free from the cycle of monthly dysmenorrhea forever. You’d be glad you did, trust me!