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  • Sunel Vanderwalt

Can Lavender Essential Oil Benefit Women's Pelvic Health? Exploring the Research

Updated: 5 days ago


Studies that Support Lavender in Women's Pelvic Health:

Lavender for general well-being and peaceful sleep.

Lavender to manage stress and anxiety

Lavender during gynecological evaluations.

Lavender before colorectal surgery.

Lavender during urodynamic testing.

Lavender for pain.

Lavender for menstrual cramps.

Lavender for labor pain.

Lavender after gynecological surgery.

Lavender for colostomy bags.

A picture of a lavender plant considered to be used in pelvic health
Exploring the benefits of Lavender for Women's Pelvic Health

Like lavender, I bloom in the most unlikely places. – Atticus

Los Ranchos de Albuquerque hosts the largest lavender festival in the southwest, and 2024 will be no exception. (LavenderInTheVillage)


Lavandula, the genus of the lavender plant, is native to Mediterranean environments.


It likes well-drained soil, low humidity, hot summers, and our NM backyard.


Most importantly, Lavender exudes a romantic feel and a certain flair.


But today, we want to see how this beautiful flower can help women when they need all the help they can get.

I believe that for every illness or ailment known to man that God has a plant out here that will heal it. We just need to keep discovering the properties for natural healing. - Vannoy Gentles Fite

Lavender: its applications


Lavender can be consumed, inhaled, or applied topically.


In medieval times, Lavender was used in perfumes, soaps, food flavoring, and crafts. It has also been employed as an anticonvulsant and sedative for headaches to manage pain, tremors, and depression.


During the Medieval and Renaissance periods in Europe, washerwomen were referred to as "lavenders" because they would spread their laundry over lavender bushes to infuse them with the sweet scent of the plant as they dried. 1


Lavender has many modern applications. This article, however, will focus on how Lavender can improve women's pelvic health.

If you had to choose an oil, it would have to be lavender essential oil because it is antibacterial and antiviral. So, it’s great to have when people around you are sick; it can also be used to relax. - Karen Rose

Lavender: existing level of evidence.


Today, even though longer-term, rigorous studies are still necessary, especially to investigate tolerability and safety, promising studies have shown that Lavender has several benefits. 2


However, because several studies are weak, we advise you to work with a health professional when using Lavender to assist with your pelvic health problems, especially if you are taking other medications and have other medical issues.


Let's see how Lavender comes to the rescue regarding Women's Pelvic Health.


1. Lavender for general well-being and peaceful sleep.


Lavender has been proven helpful for restlessness and disturbed sleep, general well-being, and improved quality of life.

The soothing scent of lavender. It always hits me at the right nerves, helping me to calm my anxiety. The smell which I was initially skeptical to even use as I never wanted to get addicted, now helps me to deal with migraine and tucks me to sleep. - Srishti Srivastava

In their article, The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep, 3 Whorley reports that sleep research today looks at the effects of sleep deprivation on metabolism, hormone regulation, and gene expression.


There seems to be a correlation between inadequate sleep and disorders such as high blood pressure, obesity, type-2 diabetes, decreased immune functioning, heart disease, mood disorders, and even loneliness.


According to research and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the sweet spot of adequate sleep for healthy adults is 7 to 7 1/2 hours of sleep a night.


  • Improved sleep quality: Lillehei et al. demonstrated the benefit of using Lavender for sleep and chose Lavender for their study due to its sedative and hypnotic properties and safety profile. 4

  • Colic and maternal mood: When the baby sleeps, the mom can sleep. A study showed that inhalation of lavender oil at low concentrations could reduce colic symptoms in night-crying infants and improve maternal mood. 5

A lavender plant in the author's garden
A lavender plant in the author's garden.

2. Lavender for Stress and anxiety.


There is abundant evidence supporting the link between stress and chronic illness.

Lavender is known for its ability to calm the nervous system, lift the mood and even lower blood pressure. - Dr. Yufang Lin

Lavender, especially L. angustifolia, is considered a medicinal plant for managing stress. 6 One of its main components, Linalole, acts as a sedative by influencing the aminobutyric acid receptors in the central nervous system.


We are all aware that any form of pelvic floor dysfunction will cause additional emotional and physical distress.


Pelvic floor physical therapy has been found to have excellent evidence-based support and benefit as a first-line treatment for most pelvic floor disorders 7, and we have seen many women reporting a decrease in their anxiety after their first pelvic floor visit with us.


Are you hesitant or worried about visiting your pelvic floor physical therapist or gynecologist?


  • Gynecological evaluations: Of all medical interventions, gynecologist evaluations cause the most anxiety, and we know that regular check-ups are crucial for women's health. A study by Tugut et al., 8 recommends routine use of lavender scent before and during such exams.

  • Colorectal surgery: Ayik 9 recommends an aromatherapy massage the night before you have colorectal surgery.

  • Urodynamics testing: Ozel et al. recommend Lavender aromatherapy to decrease anxiety when you undergo urodynamics testing. 10


3. Lavender for Pain

Lavender is for lovers true, which evermore be gained; desiring always for to have some pleasure for the pain. - Clement Robinson

Pelvic pain is usually multifactorial; it is personal - unique, and individual and requires a holistic approach.

A woman in a lavender field appreciating its benefits for pelvic pain
Pelvic floor PT is a first-line treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction.

Combining pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments is an important strategy to provide holistic care.


Let's explore how Lavender can help women with pain:


  • Menstrual cramps: A clinical trial demonstrated that inhaling Lavender for 30 minutes during the first three days of menstruation significantly reduced menstrual cramps and pain. 11

  • Labor pain: Massaging and inhalation therapy with lavender essence oil during labor improved pregnant women's coping with labor pain. 12, 13

  • Gynecological surgery: A study recommends a hand massage with lavender oil after gynecological surgical procedures; massaging patients stimulates A-β fibers, reducing pain by suppressing the transmission of pain signals. Concentrated nociceptors in the hands make massaging these areas effective in pain reduction. 14

Bottles of oil and lavender to be considered when treating pelvic health
Combining pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments is an important strategy to provide holistic care.

4. Lavender for colostomy bags:


People with colostomies may experience unpleasant odors from their stomas, impacting their quality of life. A study found that using lavender essential oil in the ostomy bag can help eliminate odor in permanent colostomy patients. 15



Summary:


With the upcoming Lavender Festival in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, we decided to research Lavender's use in women's pelvic health.


We examined Lavender's historical usage and provided a brief overview of the research quality concerning its application in the healthcare sector.


We discuss how Lavender is a herb used for general well-being and to decrease stress.


We talked about how pain is multifactorial and personal and that using pharmacological medication in addition to non-pharmacological supplements may be an excellent way to treat people holistically in our modern day.


Then, we explored further how Lavender can help women's pelvic health today. Issues we discussed included how to decrease anxiety before procedures, how to reduce pain, and how we can help cancer patients with a colostomy bag.


Please note:


The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of Lavender for medicinal purposes. It is sold as a supplement only and should not replace any prescribed course of treatment.


The FDA does not monitor these products if you choose to use this essential oil. There may be concerns about purity, safety, or quality. Only purchase essential oils from reputable companies.


References:

  1. https://www.highcountrygardens.com/content/gardening/lavender-history

  2. Koulivand, P. H., Ghadiri, M. K., & Gorji, A. (2013). Lavender and the Nervous System. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013(1), 681304. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/681304

  3. Worley SL. The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep: The Detrimental Effects of Inadequate Sleep on Health and Public Safety Drive an Explosion of Sleep Research. P T. 2018 Dec;43(12):758-763. PMID: 30559589; PMCID: PMC6281147.

  4. Lillehei AS, Halcón LL, Savik K, Reis R. Effect of Inhaled Lavender and Sleep Hygiene on Self-Reported Sleep Issues: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2015 Jul;21(7):430-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0327. Epub 2015 Jun 2. PMID: 26133206; PMCID: PMC4505755.

  5. Sahebkaram, Z., Bahrami, R., Azima, S., & Akbarzadeh, M. (2022). Efficacy of Aromatherapy for Night Crying in Infants with Infantile Colic: A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 13. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_538_20

  6. Ghavami T, Kazeminia M, Rajati F. The effect of LavenLavendertress in individuals: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Complement Ther Med. 2022 Sep;68:102832. Doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2022.102832. Epub 2022 Apr 13. PMID: 35429599.

  7. Wallace SL, Miller LD, Mishra K. Pelvic floor physical therapy in the treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction in women. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2019 Dec;31(6):485-493. doi: 10.1097/GCO.0000000000000584. PMID: 31609735.

  8. Tugut N, Demirel G, Baser M, Ata EE, Karakus S. Effects of lavender scent on patients' anxiety and pain levels during gynecological examination. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2017 Aug;28:65-69. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2017.05.006. Epub 2017 May 13. PMID: 28779939.

  9. Ayik C, Özden D. The effects of preoperative aromatherapy massage on anxiety and sleep quality of colorectal surgery patients: A randomized controlled study. Complement Ther Med. 2018 Feb;36:93-99. Doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2017.12.002. Epub 2017 Dec 6. PMID: 29458940.

  10. Özel, Begüm Z. MD; Quevedo, Amira MD; Jung, Carrie MD; Shirazi, Farah MD; Dancz, Christina E. MD, MPH. Lavender Aromatherapy for Anxiety and Pain During Multichannel Urodynamics: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial. Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery 27(11):p 654-658, November 2021. | DOI: 10.1097/SPV.0000000000001032

  11. Nikjou R, Kazemzadeh R, Rostamnegad M, Moshfegi S, Karimollahi M, Salehi H. The Effect of Lavender Aromatherapy on the Pain Severity of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Triple-blind Randomized Clinical Trial. Ann Med Health Sci Res. 2016 Jul-Aug;6(4):211-215. doi: 10.4103/amhsr.amhsr_527_14. PMID: 28480095; PMCID: PMC5405632.

  12. Karatopuk, S., & Yarıcı, F. (2023). Determining the effect of inhalation and Lavender essential oil massage therapy on the severity of perceived labor pain in primiparous women: A randomized controlled trial. EXPLORE, 19(1), 107-114. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2022.08.006

  13. Mirzaiinajmabadi, K., Makvandi, S., Mirteimoori, M., & Sadeghi, R. (2022). An Update on the Effect of Massage and Inhalation Aromatherapy with Lavender on Labor Pain Relief: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Cancer Research, 3(1), 29-37. doi: 10.21859/joqcr.3.1.29

  14. Mizrak Sahin B, Culha I, Gursoy E, Yalcin OT. Effect of Massage With Lavender Oil on Postoperative Pain Level of Patients Who Underwent Gynecologic Surgery: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. Holist Nurs Pract. 2021 Jul-Aug 01;35(4):221-229. doi: 10.1097/HNP.0000000000000400. PMID: 32657903.

  15. Duluklu, B., & Çelik, S. Ş. (2019). Effects of lavender essential oil for colorectal cancer patients with permanent colostomy on elimination of odor, quality of life, and ostomy adjustment: A randomized controlled trial. European Journal of Oncology Nursing, 42, 90-96. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejon.2019.08.001

About the author:


Dr. Sunel Vanderwalt owns Trailhead Pelvic & Visceral Physical Therapy in Albuquerque, NM, where she provides pelvic floor therapy for adults and kids.


She combines orthopedic, pelvic, visceral manipulation, and manual physical therapy.


The content on this site is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or another qualified clinician.





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