Massage is a holistic therapeutic treatment that can help with many varied symptoms in life and the side effects experienced from perimenopause and menopause are no exception. There have been studies undertaken to measure the benefits of massage specifically on women experiencing menopause demonstrating it can be of help.
Most women go through menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, although it can be earlier. Women enter perimenopause as oestrogen levels start to drop, leading to menopause as ovulation and periods cease.
Over this period of change, women can experience a whole range of symptoms and side effects, physical and emotional.
These can be:
Heavy and/or irregular periods
Low mood, depression and anxiety
Memory and concentration problems
Loss of libido
This is not an exclusive list! And it is often at a time of life when women are caring both for elderly parents and teenage children. Throw in work and normal life and it is no wonder that women can feel constantly overwhelmed and stressed.
During this time, self-care can make a real difference. A study by Darsarah et al in 2011 in Tehran placed women into three groups. One had a course of aromatherapy massage, the second placebo massage (non-aromatherapy oils) and the third was the control group with no intervention. The aromatherapy essential oil blend was composed of lavender, rose geranium, rose and rosemary in a 4:2:1:1 ratio, diluted almond (90 percent) and evening primrose oil (10 percent) at a final concentration of 3 percent.
The outcomes were measured using the Menopausal Rating Scale, which assesses 11 common symptoms. The women were assessed before and after the course of massage.
Both of the massage groups showed a significant decrease in symptoms after treatment, including depressive mood, irritability, anxiety, hot flashes, sleep disturbance, muscle and joint problems, bladder problems and vaginal dryness. The aromatherapy group showed a greater decrease, almost 50%, compared to 5% decrease for non-aromatherapy massage. There was no noticeable decrease from the control group.
Another study by Oliveira et al was carried out to assess the benefits of massage for insomnia in post-menopausal women. Each women kept a sleep diary throughout the trial. The findings showed a decrease in anxiety and depression symptoms, and that the women fell asleep quicker and had a better quality of sleep while receiving massage.
There are many other studies showing the benefits of massage on the reduction of stress hormones, and the increase in happiness hormones, as well as on sleep and relaxation. The positive touch and relaxed setting of a massage aids deep relaxation away from causes of stress and anxiety. Pressure point massage (acupressure) also helps with symptoms such as headaches and hot flushes. Aromatherapy can aid clarity of thinking, anxiety, sleep, stress and many other problems. Simply taking time out to receive care and support is itself good for well being.
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Darsareh, F et al, 2012, Effect of aromatherapy massage on menopausal symptoms: a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. Tehran University of Medical Sciences, PMID: 22549173, doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e318248ea16
Oliveria, D, et al, 2011, Effect of massage in postmenopausal women with insomnia – A pilot study. Sao Paulo Clinic, 66(2): 343-346, doi 10.1590/S1807-593220110002000026