From the time a young woman enters puberty through to menopause menstruation is a normal part of the monthly cycle. For many women this monthly ritual can be accompanied by a number of additional symptoms. The number and severity of these symptoms will vary from one woman to the next, however, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, it has been estimated that 85% or more of menstruating women have at least one PMS symptom as part of their monthly cycle. For most these symptoms are fairly mild but for an estimated 3 — 8% they can be quite severe. When this occurs it is called PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder).
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms linked to the menstrual cycle. PMS symptoms can occur 2 — 14 days before menstruation and usually go away after menstruation starts. PMS can affect menstruating women of any age. It is also different for each woman. PMS may be just a monthly bother or it may be so severe that it makes it hard to even get through the day. Although the causes of PMS are not totally clear it would appear that it is linked to the hormones that change during the menstrual cycle. While stress and emotional problems do not cause PMS they do appear to make it worse.
PMS often includes both emotional and physical symptoms and varies from one woman to another. Common symptoms include:
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Fluid retention
- Distended stomach
- Headache or backache
- Feeling tired
- Weight gain
- Digestive complaints, constipation or diarrhea
- Appetite changes or food cravings
- Trouble concentrating or remembering
- Trouble sleeping
- Tension, irritability, mood swings or crying spells
- Anxiety or depression
Using essential oil at this time can be beneficial in reducing the severity of the conditions. For ways in which to use Essential Oils see the Article Methods of Use and Applications. Essential oils often recommended for PMS include: bergamot, German and Roman chamomile, carrot seed, clary sage, sweet fennel, geranium, juniper berry, lavender, sweet marjoram, neroli, rose otto, rosemary and ylang ylang.
Here are some other suggestions for many common menstrual problems that can be experienced.
For swollen/ tender breasts use a warm compress with essential oils or take a warm relaxing bath with them. Oils to consider include cypress and juniper berry.
For water retention a warm relaxing bath with essential oils. Oils to consider include: cypress and juniper berry.
For headaches dilute the essential oils in a carrier oil and apply to the neck and shoulders and around the head. Oils to consider include lavender, peppermint and sweet marjoram.
For stomach and backache dilute essential oils in a carrier oil and apply to lower abdomen and lower back or try a warm compress. Oils to consider include geranium, sweet marjoram essential oils.
For digestive complaints, constipation or diarrhea dilute the essential oils in a carrier oil and apply to the abdomen, massage in a clockwise direction or try a warm compress to the abdomen. Essential oils to consider include Roman chamomile, ginger, peppermint.
For food cravings inhaling essential oils of fennel or patchouli can be helpful. Patchouli is said to curb the appetite.
When fatigued a bath with the essential oils of rosemary, grapefruit or basil can help to energize.
Anxiety can be eased by using the essential oils in the bath or in a diffuser. Having a personal inhaler to sniff as needed is also helpful. Consider essential oils of lavender, ylang ylang and bergamot.
Mood swings can be addressed by incorporating essential oils into regular massage, warm relaxing baths or diffusing a relaxing blend. Essential oils to consider include clary sage, lavender and ylang ylang.
Once menstruation actually starts other symptoms that can become apparent include painful period and/or cramping; lack of bleeding or too much bleeding.
For pain and/or cramping a warm relaxing bath, a warm compress applied to the lower back and abdomen or clockwise massage of the abdomen can be helpful. Essential oils to consider include clary sage, geranium and marjoram.
For too much bleeding try a warm compress on the lower abdomen. Essential oils to consider include cypress, frankincense and geranium.
For too little bleeding a warm compress on the lower abdomen or a warm bath can be helpful. Essential oils to consider include basil, clary sage and juniper berry.