Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps

Hormones are all over the place during adolescence. Reaching puberty and starting your periods is a massive landmark in a girl’s life. As her body starts to manufacture the hormones that will encourage monthly ovulation, a young woman can experience pain and embarrassment. For many women, understanding what is happening inside the body, is the first step to gaining control of the hormones. There are several oils that can help. These are Rose, Geranium, Lavender, Chamomile, Clary Sage,  Ylang Ylang, Melissa, Myrrh and Jasmine. Today we’ll look at essential oils for menstrual cramps and ways aromatherapy can support some of the other associated delights of femininity. 

History tells us that in days of antiquity, women congregated for rituals in consecration of the rites of passage into womanhood. Together, women celebrated the wonders of their difference and supported each other through the transitions of maiden and  mother to crone. Seeing their physiology as being connected to the fertility of the land, their reverence bore witness to the beauty of Woman as creatrix. 

That we have lost this observance seems like a great loss for womankind to me. In our quest to be treated as equal to men, we ignore how incredibly beautiful a woman’s cycles can be. While I’d be the last person to ever say “enjoy” menstruation, I believe the more we accept menstruation as part of our journey, and try to embrace its opportunities as truth, the more likely it is that our experience of it will be better. 

Essential oils offer us an opportunity to spoil ourselves, as well as offering us hormonal support.

Though this article is specifically titled to be about cramps, aromatherapy groups menstrual problems as a holistic issue. Put more simply: if the body is in balance, there shouldn’t really be much pain. Pain is the body’s signaling system that something is wrong. So, a clinical aromatherapist (which is what I am) looks at the patient to try to ascertain if there might be something else underpinning the cramps. For some, it might be stress, or trauma, for others there may be a skeletal misalignment (chiropractor or osteopaths can help quickly, especially if the pelvis is sitting on a nerve and causing pain) or even dietary or nutrition deficiency related. 

In the same way, for many women, the cramps do not happen in isolation. As stated, there maybe PMT and issues with mood and/ or aggression, water retention, bloating, painful breasts and back ache. 

It is reported that three quarters of women suffer PMS symptoms at some point in their lives. Thankfully, For most women, PMS symptoms are fairly mild. Less than 5% of women of childbearing age can suffer from a more severe form of PMS, called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Whilst essential oils for hormonal balance may help, this is most certainly a condition you should consult your physician about. 

Some of the key challenges in the menstrual cycle.

  • Menstrual Pain
  • Regularity 
  • Ovulation pain 
  • Very heavy periods 
  • Clotting 
  • Mood 

Essential Oils for Menstrual Pain

Let’s cut right to the chase on this one. There are several oils that can help. These are Rose, Geranium, Lavender, Chamomile, Clary Sage, Ylang Ylang, Melissa, Myrrh and Jasmine. 

They can be used alone or in combination. Combination is often the most effective course of action. 

How to Apply Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps

Personally, I see the best results using a massage oil. This can be applied to the lower abdomen and the back, as well as the inside of the wrist, for easy access to get the oils into the bloodstream. In addition, it can be very helpful to massage it onto the back of the neck and shoulders, especially during PMS week, so the oils can have speedy access to the brain, in a hope of supporting mood.  

As is always the case with aromatherapy, there is a great deal of flexibility with this. You can try them in your bath, or use them in an inhaler or diffuser. A combination of all opportunities works very well.

How Often To Use Essential Oils for Menstrual Pain

Many people find using essential oils for menstrual cramps helps them feel better almost immediately, however research shows that they have a cumulative effect. Often, when we see evidence from clinical trials, there is an improvement in the first month’s symptoms, but the second month is better, the third month even better than that. The secret is to try to keep on using essential oils for menstrual cramps even if you don’t see huge improvements to begin with. That said, many people do report feeling much better very quickly and I hope that will be the case for you. 

Essential Oils For Menstrual Pain 


Rose will always come at the top of any list of essential oils for hormonal support. That said, it carries a massive price tag, and so if you cannot afford it, I’d encourage you to look at Rose Geranium essential oil instead. It’s not as good, but if you are suffering, it’s good enough. 

Since the dawn of recorded history the rose has been associated with love and womanhood. We see it as the symbol of the goddess of love in antiquity. Aphrodite, Venus, Astarte, Innana, Ishtar, all have associations with the rose. But the goddess of love, had other areas of power. Usually sexuality and fertility, and often, in her earliest incarnations, war. 

Rose makes you feel like a woman. It has a very feminine nature. But more than that, it is a uterine tonic. Toning the womb is helpful to sustain a pregnancy, but good musculature also means the tissue has good circulation. Here, then it can relax better, which may reduce pain. 

If you find your mood alters a lot during PMT week, rose is extremely useful. Rodent research demonstrated that rose is not only hypnotic, helping you sleep, it reduces perception of pain, but it also has an anti-conflict nature. It also possesses antidepressant properties. (Mohebitabar, 2017) 


As discussed, Geranium makes an excellent replacement to rose. While they work in a similar way, they don’t really work that nicely together in blends. Their fragrances are too close in similarity. It’s almost like you played two keys next to each other on the piano. They are almost right together, but enough wrong to smell a little nauseating. 

Geranium is one of the most important essential oils in treating stress related conditions. Stress can certainly have an adverse effect on your menstrual cycle. It can alter the length of the cycle, affect your mood and make your cramps more painful. If you can get a hold of your stress levels during the intervening month, you may find your pain diminishes quite extensively.




Clary Sage

Ylang Ylang





This might be the most difficult part of the transition into womanhood. At least when the cycle begins to settle down 

Ovulation pain 

Very heavy periods 



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