Essential Oils For The Menopause
Although some women appear to go through the menopause without too much suffering, for many it brings profound changes to both mind and body as it signals the loss of both fertility and youth. Many symptoms ranging from moderate to severe can occur during the transition which can last anywhere from a few months to several years. Fortunately, aromatherapy can prove invaluable during this challenging time for a woman.
Menopause is not really an illness but a natural progression of the cycle of life in all women. Blacks Medical Dictionary describes the menopause as ‘the cessation of menstruation at the end of reproductive life’. A woman enters menopause after she has missed 12 consecutive periods.
What causes menopause?
Change in the hormonal balance of the body brings about a gradual closing down of the ovaries, and this results in the cessation of menstruation. The ovarian follicles experience a gradual decline in sensitivity to stimulation by pituitary hormones, and these follicles secrete less and less oestrogen. The lack of oestrogen means that no ovulation takes place, and therefore there is no corpus luteum to make another important hormone called progesterone.
Eventually, there are simply not enough of these vital hormones to prepare the womb for pregnancy, and this signals the end of fertility and the start of a new cycle of life. Most surprisingly, this process can start almost 10 years before the onset of the menopause itself.
When does menopause happen?
The menopause normally occurs between the ages of 45 and 50, although it can sometimes happen before the age of 30, or even not until after the age of 50. There are some instances where women have experienced the menopause in their mid twenties although this is usually due to heredity and only accounts for about 1% of cases. The ‘average’ age for the onset of the menopause is actually 51.
Leading up to the menopause, periods may begin to alter in frequency and can be heavier, lighter, longer, or shorter than previously experienced. Whatever age it takes place, it can be a psychologically disturbing experience often accompanied by a wide range of physical manifestations.
Typical menopause symptoms
The most obvious sign is a change in the pattern of periods as they become shorter. Other physical symptoms include infertility, hot flushes and night sweats, bladder problems, insomnia, vaginal dryness, headaches, skin changes, breast tenderness, palpitations, weight gain, aching joints & muscles, hair loss and skin changes (itching, dryness etc).
Menopause symptoms can wreak havoc on your emotional system too. Watch out for mood swings, irritability, anxiety, memory lapses, emotional detachment and a general feeling of being washed-out and fatigued. This is where essential oils can really be of benefit.
Essential oils for menopause
The addition of essential oils to massage blends and other treatments can really help you through this difficult milestone of your life. Their ability to help the body balance and regulate various systems and emotions makes them irreplaceable. Here are some of the most useful and versatile oils for the menopause;-
- Basil (Ocimum basilicum) – lack of concentration, fatigue, lethargy.
- Chamomile Roman (Anthemis nobilis) – aches and pains, insomnia, headaches, skin problems.
- Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) – hot flushes, sweating, insomnia, disturbed sleep patterns.
- Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) – fluid retention, hot flashes, sweating, irritability.
- Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) – balancing emotions (irritability, depression), dry skin.
- Peppermint (Mentha piperita) – hot flushes, sweating, headaches, fatigue.
Using essential oils during menopause
The easiest way to get essential oils into your system is by having a warm, soothing bath. Choose your oils, add 6-8 drops (in total) to the bathwater, and have a nice long relaxing soak. A couple of drops each of clary sage, geranium and cypress oils in the bath can help to balance your body and aid the reduction of hot flushes or night sweats experienced.
You can also use essential oils diluted at 2% in a body massage, which is roughly 5 drops of oils to 10ml of carrier oil. If you prefer you can add your chosen essential oils to a lotion base and apply after a bath or shower.
Essential oils can be inhaled directly from a tissue for an instant treatment whilst out and about, or you can put them in your diffuser or vaporiser in the usual way. At the first sign of hot flushes or a headache put one or two drops of peppermint essential oil on a tissue and inhale gently. Alternatively, carry a small spray bottle of peppermint hydrosol in your handbag and spritz the face, head and neck as required. The cooling and refreshing effect of peppermint hydrosol really helps to cool you down.
To keep up your treatments whilst out driving, place a few drops of essential oil onto a cotton wool ball and put it in your car to receive the benefits of your oils whilst travelling to work or shopping.
If you’re a woman, nothing can prevent you from going through the menopause at some stage in your life. But using your essential oils can certainly help ease you through the experience, and make life a little more comfortable during this major turning point in your life.
Copyright © Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd 2014. Written by Sue Charles