Sessions of massage both with and without aromatherapy reduced the severity of symptoms among menopausal women, according to recent research. However, the study’s authors found the aromatherapy massage yielded significantly better results than the massage without aromatherapy.

The study, “Effect of aromatherapy massage on menopausal symptoms: a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial,” involved 87 women with menopausal symptoms according to the Menopausal Rating Scale (MRS). Eligibility criteria included an age of 45 to 60 years and amenorrhea for at least 12 months. The use of hormone therapy was among the exclusion criteria for this study.

For the intervention, researchers randomly assigned the women to either the aromatherapy massage group, the placebo massage group or the control group. The main outcome measures for this study were the menopausal symptoms, evaluated via the MRS before and after the intervention period. These symptoms include depressive mood, irritability, anxiety, hot flashes, heart discomfort, sleeping problems, muscle and joint problems, sexual issues, bladder problems and vaginal dryness.

Women in both massage groups received two 30-minute massage sessions per week for four weeks, for a total of eight sessions. During the massage, the women were in a supine position with a cushion beneath their knees to keep the abdomen relaxed. Depending on the woman’s group assignment, the massage therapist used either 5 milliliters of aroma oil or 5 milliliters of nonaroma oil.

The massage consisted of light pressure, using clockwise, circular movements applied to the abdomen, femurs and arms. The massage therapist placed her left hand on her right hand, and both hands were placed on the lower right abdomen. According to the study’s authors, “the movement went to the ribs and then across the abdomen to the lower left abdomen.” The femurs and arms were massaged in the same manner.

The researchers report that the aroma oil used in the study was produced by an Iranian pharmacy factory. It consisted of lavender, rose geranium, rose and rosemary in a 4:2:1:1 ratio, diluted with 90 percent almond oil and 10 percent evening primrose oil, at a final concentration of 3 percent.

Results of the research revealed that women in both the aromatherapy and placebo massage groups showed a significant improvement in menopausal symptoms following the eight sessions of massage, as compared to the women in the control group. The data also showed that women in the aromatherapy massage group had significantly lower scores on the MRS as compared to women in the placebo massage group.

“The results of this study demonstrate that both massage and aromatherapy massage are effective in reducing menopausal symptoms during menopause,” state the study’s authors. “However, aromatherapy massage is more effective than massage without aromatherapy.”


Authors: Fatemeh Darsareh, Simin Taavoni, Soodabeh Joolaee and Hamid Haghani. 

Sources: Nursing and Midwifery Faculty, Research Institute for Islamic and Complementary Medicine, Statistics Department, School of Management and Medical Information and Health Sciences, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. Originally published in 2012 in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society, 19(9).