Stress-reduction techniques, specifically aromatherapy, have many benefits to the person practicing them, but it is unclear how they affect a woman’s perception of her own body and menstrual cycle. The purpose of this project was to investigate the effects that aromatherapy has on a woman’s perception of her body and menstrual cycle. It was hypothesized that the aromatherapy would provide stress-relieving effects and increase a participant’s positive perception of her body. Participants were recruited through Bridgewater State University’s SONA system with the requirement that they were over the age of 18 and assigned female at birth. Participants completed an interview to discuss their body esteem and feelings regarding their menstrual cycle before (pre) and after (post) they engaged in 10-minutes of aromatherapy using lavender essential oil. The pre-and post-interviews were then analyzed to see if participants used more positive language to describe their body and menstrual cycle after the aromatherapy session took place. A qualitative content analysis of the data revealed that women talked more positively about their body and menstrual cycle and shared more information with the researcher following the aromatherapy session, perhaps due to the relaxing effects of the aromatherapy. Participants talked more negatively overall, in both the pre- and post-interviews, when discussing menstruation in comparison to how they discussed their bodies but acknowledged the need for and importance of the menstrual cycle in the post-interview. Given these findings, aromatherapy could be used as a clinical tool to help treat body shame. Aromatherapy could also be used to assist adolescent girls before menarche in reducing feelings of body and menstrual shame and help them to talk more positively in the immediate timeframe.
Dr. Theresa Jackson, Thesis Advisor
Dr. Joseph Schwab, Committee Member
Copyright and Permissions
Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.
DeMattio, Michaela. (2020). The Effect Aromatherapy has on a Woman’s Perception of her Body and Menstrual Cycle. In BSU Honors Program Theses and Projects. Item 320. Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/honors_proj/320
Copyright © 2020 Michaela DeMattio