Guest Post: Essential Oils for Period Care

Aromatherapy, the practice of using essential oils for improving or maintaining health and beauty, is a wonderful and yet often misunderstood form of alternative health care. It is both a practice that people can dabble in at home and at the same time is a form of treatment practiced by professional Aromatherapists.

Whether you use essential oils at home or seek the care of your local Aromatherapist, integrating Aromatherapy into your life is a fantastic act of self-care. Of course, we could all use a little more self-care in our lives, but as women dealing with so many external expectations and pressures, the practice of taking time for oneself is particularly important – especially during our periods! 43157468_l-smaller

Essential oils are effective in treating some of the discomforts associated with the menstrual cycle in two ways: first, essential oils can be inhaled (eg. diffusing) and are absorbed directly into the olfactory system, ultimately assisting the hypothalamus to control hormone production. Second, essential oils can be diluted in a carrier oil and applied directly to the skin to be absorbed into the body’s tissues (muscle, blood, etc.) which can help with physical discomfort.

In North America, essential oils can be found on store shelves due to a lack of regulation over the product. This means that many different oils can be purchased and used at home; however, it’s important to remember that essential oils are a natural health product that affects every body differently and should be used with care. Overuse or improper use can tax the liver and cause severe adverse reactions. The reality is that not every oil is safe for every body, and so the absolute best way to understand the spectrum of oils that are safe and effective for you as an individual is to seek the care of an Aromatherapist.

If you’re keen to find a DIY solution to eliminate the discomforts associated with your period, the good news is that there are a few essential oils that are safe to use at home.

Here are four ways to use essential oils at home for period care:

  1. Lavender in the bath for relaxation and sleep: if you like to take baths, you can mix 10 drops of Lavender essential oil in with 1 cup of Epsom salts and allow this to dissolve in the bath. Alternatively, you can just add the 10 drops to your bathwater. Soak for at least 20 minutes and enjoy the calming, soothing effect on both mind and body. If you suffer from period-related sleep issues, this is particularly helpful to do just before bed as lavender is an effective oil used to treat insomnia.41101925_l-smaller

  2. Diffuse a blend to improve your mood: using a hydro diffuser (one that you fill with water and does not heat the oils), take a little time to sit and relax, perhaps with a good cup of tea. Drop in 5 drops of your essential oil blend and turn on the diffuser nearby, sit for at least 20 minutes for maximum benefit. Lavender + Sweet Orange is an effective blend for helping you relax while also uplifting a low mood. Sweet Orange + Grapefruit is a great blend to help energize you if you’ve been feeling a bit lethargic, and Peppermint is excellently stimulating if you’ve been feeling a bit of a brain fog.

  3. Tea tree to treat the skin: for hormonal breakouts, there’s no better essential oil for skin than Tea Tree. In a small container, mix 2 tbsp of alcohol-free witch hazel with 5 drops tea tree oil. You can dip a cotton swab or cotton ball (dip only once to prevent contamination) into the mixture and wipe on areas of concern (face and/or body) to help soothe and dry the breakout. If you are worried about or dealing with acne scars, Lavender is one of the best topical healing oils and could be used in witch hazel or in your regular toner or moisturizer to speed healing.

  4. Peppermint for hormonal headaches: if you experience hormonal headaches during your period, Peppermint could be a life-saver. In a small container or dropper bottle, mix 2 tbsp of carrier oil (liquid coconut, grapeseed, avocado, or sunflower oil work well) with 5 drops of peppermint essential oil. Using your fingers, rub a bit of the oil into temples and onto the back of the neck right at the hairline at the first sign of a headache to stop it in its tracks.

These at-home treatments are easy to whip up with just a small collection of essential oils. There are many more oils that can be used for period care and treating symptoms such as muscle soreness, cramping, and other mood fluctuations. For best results, an Aromatherapist can create specific blends and products tailored to your individual experience.

 

kateKate Murray-Fuerth, B.A., CAP

Kate is a Kitchener, Ontario-based Aromatherapist who is passionate about helping people to better understand how to use essential oils safely and effectively. She works with clients both in-person and via Skype on a variety of health and skincare concerns and specializes in women’s health – particularly Aromatherapy for pregnancy and motherhood. She is also the creator of NB Naturals, a line of professional aromatherapy products and certified organic essential oils. For more information or to book an appointment, contact her at kate@nbnaturals.org or visit www.nbnaturals.org.

Finding the Right Gynecologist

finding the right gynecologist The DivaCup

 

Your gynecologist and you share a special relationship – and not just because they are checking out your vagina regularly. Your gynecologist is someone you trust with your health so it is important that you find the right gynecologist for your body and your health concerns.  For this reason, it may not be as simple as calling up the first gyno’s number you see in the phone book. There are many factors that play a part in finding the right gynecologist and the tips below are a great place to start.

Make a “Must-Haves” List

Every gynecologist should meet certain requirements, no matter who you decide on. Every gyno should be certified and educated, experienced with a number of years in the industry under their belt (hehe) and, depending on your body specifically, you can also look for gynos that have a certain expertise. For example, if you are living with endometriosis, you may look for a gyno who focuses on patients with endo.

After these initial must-haves are checked off the list, you should consider the following:

  • Is gender important to you? Everybody has different preferences and experiences, so think about whether you would feel more comfortable with a female or a male gynecologist. This can help you narrow down your list significantly from the get-go.
  • Where are they located? Obviously, you will want to know how close or far your gyno’s office is from where you live and the implications that may have. If you’re willing to have a gyno that is further away, keep in mind that you may not be able to get in for emergency appointments. Take into account your drive time, whether there is public transport stops close by or whether parking will cost you an arm and an ovary.
  • What is included in your health plan? Be mindful that there may be gynos or treatments not affiliated with your benefit package or health plan and ones that are, which may limit your options when it comes to coverage.
  • What are their values? Finding a gyno that shares your views and values is too often overlooked and is actually super important. Whether you are into alternative methods of birth control or really like a gyno with a sense of humor, these are important things to determine before you sign over your vagina to them.

Ask Around

Obviously, walking up to a stranger and asking who they recommend for your vagina may not be the most effective, but getting referrals is an easy way to narrow down your search. You could speak with your regular physician about gynecologists they recommend and get a referral appointment that way, or you could ask family, friends and trusted co-workers if they would recommend their gyno. It’s also important to ask if there is anyone they wouldn’t recommend, which could save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

Do Your Homework

Remember, this is your health so don’t just take someone’s word and leave it at that. Do a little homework and look up your gyno candidates’ credentials, ensure they are properly certified and maybe even look at reviews online from trusted websites.

Make a Consultation Appointment

Narrow down your top choices and make a consultation appointment with each of them. This won’t be an exam, but rather a chance to sit and get to know your potential gynecologist. Don’t leave any stone unturned. Prepare a list of questions you have, from the general to the very specific, and ask each candidate their thoughts. It is important to ask about things that are important to you, whether it is alternatives to the pill or STI testing, so you can get a feel for how you and your potential gyno will groove.

Follow Your Gut

You know yourself better than anyone so don’t feel ashamed of turning down a gyno that seemed perfect on paper but that you just aren’t sure about. There is no shame in putting yourself, your comfort, or your health first. So if something isn’t sitting right with you, keep shopping around. Mindy Lahiri may not actually exist but the perfect gyno for you definitely does.

You Aren’t Stuck

Remember, this doesn’t have to be a permanent relationship. If you end up deciding to go with a gyno and later on find that things aren’t working out the way you had hoped, whether that is because you two have different values or wait times are too long, you are allowed to find a new gyno whenever you see fit.

Are you ready to #GetToYourGyno? Don’t be nervous – you are taking a big step in the right direction for your health. What are some tips you have for finding the right gyno? How did you know when you found her/him? Share your experiences with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!