For many women, menopause is a milestone moment. It not only signifies the end of monthly menstruation, but it also marks a women’s decline in fertility.

Although some women may notice changes in their 30s, many women won’t experience menopause until their 40s or 50s. By definition, a woman has reached menopause when 12 consecutive months have passed without a menstrual period.

Many women experience symptoms such as hot flashes or fatigue. These symptoms can disrupt day-to-day activities. Although these symptoms can be uncomfortable, there are homeopathic ways to help you cope. Essential oils may help relieve some of the symptoms that you’re experiencing.

If you aren’t interested in prescribed medications to help you manage your symptoms, you might consider alternative solutions. Some essential oils have been found to provide relief when applied on different areas of the body.

These oils come from many different plant sources and can often be found in their natural form. They’re also available in forms ready for immediate application, such as oils or creams.

Essential oils are used in aromatherapy. The essence of these oils is meant to be inhaled (directly or through a difuser) or diluted and applied to the skin. Essential oils should not be ingested.

These five essential oils may help relieve your symptoms:

1. Clary sage

Hot flashes are a quick sensation of heat that pulsates throughout your body. These may be naturally remedied by rubbing three drops of dilutedclary sage oil across the back of your neck or all over your feet.

For even quicker relief, consider adding a few drops to a tissue or napkin and inhaling and exhaling softly. This allows the oil to enter your body through your nose. This process can also produce antidepressantlike effects.

Clary sage is also thought to help slow the development of osteoporosis. Women experiencing menopause have an increased risk for osteoporosis due to a decline in estrogen. During this time, bone breakdown overtakes bone development.

2. Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil may also reduce your discomfort when experiencing hot flashes. Add no more than two drops to a tissue. Hold the tissue up to your nose while breathing slowly.

This oil may also help relieve any cramping you may experience during this time. Although not common once menstruation has ended, it’s typical to experience menstruation-related cramping (dysmenorrhea) during perimenopause.

Some women may continue to experience cramps once menstruation has ceased completely. This may be a sign of an underlying medical condition. If you’re no longer menstruating and experiencing persistent cramping, consult your doctor.

3. Lavender

Lavender may help balance your hormones and soothe perineal discomfort. If the area around your perineum feels tight or otherwise uncomfortable, you may consider placing a cold compress on the area. You can add one drop of diluted lavender oil to the compress for additional relief.

It’s recommended that you only use the compress for up to 30 minutes. If you experience any stinging or burning, you should remove the compress and rinse the area with water.

Lavender can also promote feelings of relaxation and help improve the quality of your sleep. During this time, insomnia and other sleep-related problems are common. You may find it beneficial to add lavender aromatherapy to your nighttime routine.

4. Geranium

Geranium used as an essential oil has also been found to help menopausal women manage hormonal changes. One to two drops may be inhaled from a napkin for immediate stress relief. Geranium is also helpful for dry skin. Consider adding a few drops of the diluted oil to the water during a relaxing, hot bath.

Research also suggests that this essential oil has antianxiety and antidepressant effects.

5. Basil

If you’re looking for ways to increase your estrogen levels or to help improve your mood, consider adding basil aromatherapy to your daily regimen. Basil can also be helpful against hot flashes when diluted and applied to your feet or rubbed across the back of your neck.

6. Citrus

Citrus oil aromatherapy is said to have a number of health benefits for women experiencing symptoms of menopause. Researchers in a 2014 study found the postmenopausal women who inhaled this essential oil experienced fewer physical symptoms and an increase in sexual desire.

In addition to a decrease in systolic blood pressure, they also experienced an improved pulse rate and estrogen concentrations.

Citrus also has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help with any aches and pains you may be experiencing.

Take care with citrus oils, they make your skin sun sensitive. Avoid direct sunlight if applying diluted citrus oils to your skin.

Speak with your doctor before using essential oils for menopausal relief. Your doctor will be able to tell you if the oils will affect any medications that you may be taking. You should also check with your doctor if you have any known allergies, as some oils may contain potential allergens.

If you plan to use essential oils, make sure you’re clear on the instructions ahead of time. These oils can be harmful if they’re applied directly to the skin, so be sure to dilute your essential oil of choice with a carrier oil. Coconut, jojoba, and olive oils are common carrier oils. A good rule of thumb is to add 1 ounce of carrier oil to every 12 drops of essential oil and mix.

You should always perform a patch test before doing a full application. To do this, apply the diluted oil to a small area of skin. The inside of the arm is generally a good location for this. Wait 24 hours to see if your skin experiences any inflammation or irritation. If you do, discontinue use. If nothing happens, it should be OK for you to do a full application.

If you’re using an oil in a spray, make sure you’re in an area with proper ventilation.

When you first start having menopausal symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor can give you helpful information as you begin your menopausal journey.

Drug therapy is typically used to treat symptoms of menopause. For many women, this may mean hormone therapy. Hormone therapy is the most effective treatment for hot flashes and night sweats. You may take doses of estrogen in pill, patch, gel, or cream form. Some women may also need to take progestin.

Estrogen can also relieve vaginal dryness. The hormone can be applied directly to the vagina via a low-dose tablet, ring, or cream. The estrogen is absorbed into the vaginal tissue.

Several medications are available for hot flash relief, including antidepressants and gabapentin (Neurontin). Women who can’t use estrogen therapy often take gabapentin.

Your doctor may also make fitness and dietary recommendations. Certain lifestyle changes may also help reduce symptoms.

Check out: Menopause diet »

Menopause is a time of extreme change, but it can be manageable. Whether you prefer traditional or alternative therapies, you have options for relief. Speak with your doctor about any concerns you may have so you can work with them to develop a treatment plan.

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