Reflexology research: PMS

Pre Menstrual Syndrome is a condition that effects many women and can have a very negative effect on their lives. They may feel physically and emotionally unwell, causing daily life to be very negatively affected. There are many different symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which can vary from person to person and change slightly every month.

The symptoms of PMS usually happen at the same time in your menstrual cycle each month, which can be up to two weeks before your period starts. They usually improve once your period has started, and then disappear until your cycle starts again.

More than 100 different symptoms of PMS have been recorded, but the most common are listed below:

    fluid retention and feeling bloated
    pain and discomfort in your abdomen (tummy)
    changes to your skin and hair
    muscle and joint pain
    breast tenderness
    insomnia (trouble sleeping)
    weight gain (up to 1kg)
    mood swings
    feeling upset or emotional
    feeling irritable or angry
    depressed mood
    crying and tearfulness
    difficulty concentrating
    confusion and forgetfulness
    decreased self-esteem
    loss of libido (loss of interest in sex)
    appetite changes or food cravings

There have been several studies exploring the use of reflexology in the management of PMS. The results are promising suggesting reflexology would be helpful for most women experiencing PMS. One such study is summarised below.

  • Terry Oleson PhD and William Flocco, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 82, No. 6, December 1993

This study was designed to explore whether reflexology treatments could significantly reduce pre menstrual symptoms compared to a placebo treatment. Thirty-five women who reported pre menstrual syndrome (PMS) were randomly assigned to be treated by reflexology or to receive placebo reflexology. The subjects completed a daily diary monitoring 38 premenstrual symptoms on a four-point scale. Physical and psychological indicators of premenstrual distress were recorded each day for 2 months prior to treatment, for 2 months during reflexology treatment, and for 2 months afterward.

The reflexology sessions for both groups were provided by trained reflexology therapist once a week for 8 weeks, and lasted 30 minutes each.The placebo group recived manual stimulation of feet but not specific reflexology. All the placebo subjects indicated that they believed they were recieving reflexology and found it pleasant.

Results: Statistical analysis for repeated measures demonstrated a significantly greater decrease in pre menstrual symptoms for the women given true reflexology than for the women in the placebo group. The treatment group showed a 46% reduction in premenstrual symptoms, which continued at 41% during the post treatment period. This included both psychological and physical symtpoms. It was concluded that reflexology is a positive therapy choice for the management of PMS.

The study would need to be repeated with a larger group of subjects before reflexology could be described as a treatment for PMS but the results are very promising.

Posted on January 8, 2014 and filed under reflexology, woman's health.