Most people are fairly quiet about pelvic floor issues, but Lena Dunham recently wrote in Vogue about all the elements leading up to her hysterectomy at 31, including endometriosis that caused debilitating pelvic pain.
Her treatments, she told Vogue magazine, involved pelvic floor therapy, massage therapy, pain therapy, yoga, acupuncture, and vaginal massage, a technique that she described as “horrifying.”1
In a world where women’s health issues are sometimes not taken as seriously as those of men, pelvic floor problems often go unmentioned. But here’s the problem: for women suffering from pelvic pain, life begins to revolve around that pain. This impacts the most intimate parts of life, including intimacy itself.
Pelvic floor disorders include incontinence, pain, and prolapse, which occurs when the muscles that are in place to support the organs of the pelvis weaken and begin to slip.2
Most pelvic floor disorders are caused by weakened or damaged muscles and can be caused by childbirth, obesity, damage from surgery, or straining—either from heavy lifting or constipation.
Treatments for Pelvic Floor Disorder
Moves to improve pelvic floor strength or relax muscles that are constricted can help ease problems. Pelvic floor treatments may include:
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
There are a variety of different treatment options that fall under the category of pelvic floor physical therapy. In most cases, therapists use massage and other hands-on therapy to stretch, strengthen, and relax muscles, as well as the connective tissue between the skin, muscles, and bones.
Kegels, which help strengthen muscles, have been described as constricting your muscles as if you were trying to stop urinating mid-stream. The entire pelvic floor muscle group tightens and relaxes during the exercise, so muscles become stronger and more responsive over time.
Manual therapy can help break up existing scar tissue, such as the scar tissue related to Cesarean sections, childbirth, or scar-inducing problems.
Biofeedback uses electrical responses to help train muscles. Over time, it can ease pain by providing more control over muscles.
Pilates and yoga are both effective treatment options for pelvic floor problems because they strengthen not only core muscle groups, but also pelvic muscles.
Best Essential Oils for Pelvic Pain
While all of the treatment options traditionally used for pelvic floor problems can be beneficial, holistic medicine is always a welcome addition because it can help promote relaxation, increase endurance levels, and relieve some pain.
There are many essential oils that help ease pain, including peppermint, lavender, myrrh, chamomile, and any of oils containing eugenol, such as clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. These oils are most effective when used in massages in combination with a carrier oil—coconut oil is a great option.
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The following essential oils have been the most thoroughly-studied for relieving pelvic floor pain:
Thyme Essential Oil
A 2014 study from Iranian researchers in the Caspian Journal of Internal Medicine found that thyme essential oil was as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for addressing pelvic pain.3
Rosemary Essential Oil
A 2015 study from Serbian researchers found that rosemary essential oil was an effective pain reliever when combined with other analgesics because of its mild pain-relieving benefits.4
Black Pepper Essential Oil
This warming oil helps soothe muscles, making it an excellent oil for massages. A 2014 study found that a blend including black pepper essential oil was effective for easing neck pain. These properties come from β-caryophyllene and pinene, two powerful pain-relieving compounds.5
Stress can enhance pain, so promoting relaxation is a great way to help encourage muscles that are tight to relax. Some great stress-relieving essential oils include:
Lavender Essential Oil
There have been many studies about the impact of lavender essential oil on stress, but a 2013 study from German researchers isolated the compound linalool and found that it helped ease the stress associated with hormonal changes.6 This essential oil can be used topically after being diluted with a carrier oil or aromatically in a room diffuser or personal diffuser like Relieve MONQ.
Bergamot Essential Oil
Many citrus oils help ease stress because of the brightness of the aroma. However, Thai researchers found that bergamot essential oil, which comes from the peels of the Italian citrus fruit bergamot, was as beneficial as benzodiazepines at easing stress.7
Geranium Essential Oil
A 2015 study found that the floral scent of geranium essential oil helped ease the pain associated with labor, making it a good choice for easing pelvic pain.8
And if you’re looking for essentials to help boost energy so you’re less inclined to skip a workout, peppermint, lemon, grapefruit, and rosemary essential oils can all stimulate the senses enough so that you’ll remember the benefits associated with your workouts.
Although pelvic pain can often be a bit difficult to manage, with the right remedies and treatment regimen, it is nevertheless possible to improve your quality of life, making for a happier and healthier you. Try using one of the pelvic therapies described above, in addition to following the established plan you have set up with your doctor, and figure out what works for you.
Photo credits: BlurryMe/shutterstock.com, colors/shutterstock.com, ZetarInfinity/shutterstock.com