Did you know that you can use essential oils for pelvic health?
Not only can essential oils (EOs) reduce stress and boost your mood, they can also ease muscle tension and relieve pain. Furthermore, they support a holistic healthy lifestyle that can result in proper hormone balance, improved immunity, and a stronger body overall. You guys, I’m serious… This is something for any pelvic health enthusiast (or health nut) to consider.
But first, let me clear something up:
Are EOs a “magic bullet” that can cure ANYTHING with just one drop?
Rather, EOs are a beautiful way to support a holistic path to pelvic health (including pain management if that’s something you need).
What are essential oils?
Also referred to as “volatile aromatic compounds” (meaning they quickly change state from a liquid to a gas), EOs are highly concentrated molecules that give a plant its aroma and protect it from insects and harsh environmental conditions. Essential oils are often likened to the immune system of a plant; think of them as tiny little packets of protection! Their protective benefits extend to HUMANS (and other animals) as well.
EOs have been used for thousands of years in religious rituals and medical applications; in fact, EOs are mentioned multiple times in the Bible and have long been a staple of Ayurveda (a form of Eastern medicine). Before we had Tylenol and Advil, we had EOs. The crazy thing is that many modern medicines are made to mimic or replicate the effects of EOs. (Not sure why we didn’t simply continue using what nature gave us from the get-go…)
Modern use of essential oils has grown rapidly in recent years, especially as scientists continue to research the numerous benefits and applications of therapeutic-grade essential oils. Many medical providers consider EOs to be a SAFE and EFFECTIVE treatment option, and even prestigious universities such as Vanderbilt promote the use of EOs with clients and staff. (1)
EOs can be used three ways: aromatically by diffusing, topically by applying to the skin (usually diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or olive oil), and internally in certain situations. If using EOs internally, always check the label to make sure your oil is certified to be therapeutic-grade and safe for internal use.
Let’s get down to business. How can you use essential oils for pelvic health?
1. Supporting a Healthy Lifestyle
This could be an entire blog post in and of itself, so I’ll only just briefly touch on they myriad of ways in which EOs can support a healthy lifestyle. Honestly, I think this is really where EOs shine!
- Eating right and exercising regularly: (I’ll talk about exercise specifically later in this post.) Regarding eating right, EOs are a great flavor enhancer (when using an oil that’s therapeutic-grade and suitable for ingestion), and morning lemon water is an excellent way to cleanse your body from the inside out wake up feeling refreshed and hydrated. Just add 1-2 drops of lemon EO to a large glass of water, stir briskly, and enjoy! Read my morning lemon water post here.
- Sleep/Rest: Proper rest is essential for energy, mood, hormone balance, a healthy immune system, and even pain management. If you have trouble sleeping, try diffusing 4-5 drops lavender EO by your bedside, or dropping 1-2 drops on your pillow before going to bed.
- Cedarwood is another oil that has mild sedative effects when inhaled. (2) A blend of cedarwood + lavender is one of my favorite combinations for a restful sleep, or to ease anxiety when I’m feeling too “amped up” during the day.
- Reducing toxic load: Most commercial cleaning products contain toxins and endocrine disrupting chemicals (meaning that they can affect your hormones over time). Over time, I have used EOs to completely revamp my stash of household cleaners. One example from my all-natural cleaning cabinet is my homemade glass and surface spray, which you can learn how to make in the video below.
- I’ve also replaced most of my lotions, serums, and body washes with homemade products that work better (and cost less!) than what I used to buy… And so much better for the skin, which is porous and directly absorbs the toxins that are in so many drugstore products. My favorite DIY facial serum includes just 3 ingredients: 1/2 cup coconut oil softened, 1 Tbsp jojoba oil, and 20 drops frankincense EO. Stir well and apply daily. Bonus: Frankincense is one of the TOP anti-aging essential oils. (3)
2. Discomfort Management
Many EOs can be used to relieve discomfort. A few that have been studied in relation to menstrual and/or pelvic discomfort include: thyme, lavender, clary sage, and marjoram.
- A study from the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research found in a randomized, double-blind clinical trial that a blend of pure essential oils served to decrease the duration of menstrual pain more than a synthetic fragrance. (5) Lavender, clary sage, and marjoram were used in a 2:1:1 ratio, diluted to 3% in an unscented cream, and applied daily to the lower abdomen from the end of menstruation to the beginning of the next cycle. The decrease in duration of menstrual pain was reduced from 2.4 to 1.8 days, and both numeric and verbal pain rating scales significantly decreased (P < 0.001) after just one menstrual cycle.
- Personally, when I experience menstrual cramps, I use doTERRA’s “PastTense” Tension Blend applied directly over my uterus, followed by 1-2 drops lavender EO. This combination + 10 minutes relaxing on the couch works like magic… No Motrin required.
- This video has great tips that can help if you have pelvic pain and/or tension!
3. Easing Muscle Tension
Excess tension in the pelvic floor (and surrounding) muscles can cause a “headache in the pelvis.” Here are some methods of relaxing the pelvic muscles that will be helpful for both women AND men:
- Place 2-3 drops of peppermint EO in the toilet, sit over it for a few minutes and take some deep breaths. The pelvic floor will relax as the vapors from the oil surround your pelvic muscles and perineum. (6)
- Consider trying this with eucalyptus or rosemary EOs as well (alone, or in combination with peppermint as described).
- As we’ve already discussed, lavender EO promotes relaxation. Place a drop of lavender in your hand and rub your palms together. Place you hands up to your nose and take a few deep inhales. While you are breathing, actively relax your pelvic floor muscles by doing a “pelvic drop” (the opposite of a kegel). Click here for pelvic drop instructions!
- While aromatic use (inhalation) is wonderful and effective, specific application may target your symptoms more directly. Similar to the study described in the “Pain Management” section above, combine lavender, clary sage, and marjoram diluted in an unscented cream or carrier oil (such as coconut oil). Apply daily to the sacrum, low back, lower abdomen, inner thighs, and/or groin area to ease pelvic discomfort.
- Wintergreen EO is also effective at relieving muscle tension and pain when applied topically. Like the birch tree, wintergreen contains natural methyl salicylate, the main ingredient in aspirin. It was commonly used by Native Americans as a general pain tonic, and modern research has shown that wintergreen oil has a cortisone-like effect with anti-inflammatory, soothing, and antispasmodic properties. Note: wintergreen is one of the strongest essential oils and should never be consumed. (7)
- Enjoy a soak in an Epsom salt bath with 5-6 drops total of lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint and/or rosemary EOs.
4. Stress and Mood Management
Let’s get real… Pelvic health concerns are STRESSFUL. Whether you’re dealing with painful periods, chronic pelvic pain, bladder leakage, or anything else “down there,” it can be anxiety-provoking and mood disrupting.
- Lavender EO is known as the “calming” oil, and I have personally used it (very successfully, I might add) when I am feeling over-anxious. My personal favorite use is to either diffuse 4-6 drops of lavender twice/day, or take 2-3 drops internally (in an empty gelatin capsule) up to twice/day.
- Frankincense has both uplifting and relaxing properties. Diffusing or applying this oil topically not only helps YOU, but it can help your family too. Happy mom = happy family!
- Do you experience pain during intercourse? Ylang ylang may help reduce anxiety and fear related to sex. While often touted as an “aphrodisiac,” the fear-reducing factor may be the primary benefit of this oil.
To my knowledge, EOs can’t be used to directly help with muscle strengthening; however, they can be used in other fitness applications such as:
- Boosting energy and motivation before workouts. I suggest using 1 drop each of peppermint and wild orange EOs, rub hands together briskly, and inhale deeply. Instant perk-me-up!
- Opening your lungs to ease breathing during exercise, yoga, or meditation. I recommend diffusing 4-6 drops of doTERRA’s “Breathe” Respiratory Blend, which contains Laurel Leaf, Eucalyptus Leaf, Peppermint Plant, Melaleuca Leaf, Lemon Peel, Ravensara Leaf, and Cardamom Seed EOs.
- “Grounding” into your body during yoga or meditation, so that you can feel peaceful, relaxed, and in touch with your lower chakras. I recommend applying 1-2 drops of doTERRA’s “Balance” blend to each foot before your yoga or meditation session. Another grounding option is to diffuse 2 drops each of: patchouli, wild orange, and ylang ylang EOs.
- Keeping your yoga mat clean and fresh. Here’s my latest rendition of an all-purpose yoga mat cleaning spray. I use it EVERY DAY!
- Add 8 – 10 oz water, 1 oz rubbing alcohol or witch hazel, 10 drops lemongrass EO, 10 drops lavender EO, 5 drops eucalyptus EO, and 5 drops melaleuca EO to a spray bottle. Shake well before using. Spritz mat, give it a wipe, and enjoy a clean mat + soothing scent before and/or after your yoga session.
Pelvic pain/discomfort is NO FUN (to say the least), and pelvic health concerns such as incontinence and prolapse can be daunting, disappointing, and frustrating to treat.
The great news is that holistic modalities such as EOs can support you in your journey to recovery whether you require lifestyle support, better sleep, more energy, decreased tension, or pain relief.
Although sometimes prescription (or over the counter) medications are required, I encourage you to explore natural alternatives so that you can find a healthy balance between modern medicine and time-tested natural healing methods. If you’d like more info about using essential oils for pelvic health, and/or if you’d like to work with me, don’t hesitate to reach out using my contact form. I’m happy to help get you started with the oils that I (personally) think are the best.
- Opening Minds Closed to the Possibilities of Using Essential Oils, by Tonya McBride, RN, and Terese Sturges, RN. doTERRA’s LIVING magazine, Fall 2012.
- The sedative effects and mechanism of action of cedrol inhalation with behavioral pharmacological evaluation. Planta Med. 2003 Jul;69(7):637-41.
- Top Anti-Aging Essential Oils, draxe.com
- Comparative effect of thymus vulgaris and ibuprofen on primary dysmenorrhea: A triple-blind clinical study. Caspian J Intern Med. 2014 Spring;5(2):82-8.
- Pain relief assessment by aromatic essential oil massage on outpatients with primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized, double-blind clinical trial. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2012 May;38(5):817-22.
- How Can I Use Essential Oils to Support My Body and Ease My Pelvic Pain? drsusieg.com
- Amazing Essential Oils for Chronic Pain Relief, thealternativedaily.com
- Lavender oil preparation Silexan is effective in generalized anxiety disorder–a randomized, double-blind comparison to placebo and paroxetine. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2014 Jun;17(6):859-69.
** The statements in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. dōTERRA essential wellness products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.
Essential Oil Curious
When you subscribe, you'll get instant access to my Refreshing Towelette recipe, and I'll add you to my "EO Curious" interest group. You will also be subscribed to my main FemFusion mailing list for occasional email updates and news about my products and services related to women's wellness, fitness, and yoga. I'm excited to connect with you!
~Dr. Bri, PT, DPT