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Aromatherapy for pregnancy and those trying to conceive

Whether you are already pregnant or you are trying to conceive, you may have wondered if aromatherapy could be of benefit to you. In this article, we will look at what is aromatherapy, and its potential benefits, as well as issues, for women who are pregnant, as well as those of you who are trying to conceive.

1. What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy refers to the use of certain types of herbal oils. It is the medical use of oils extracted from plants so as to benefit from their therapeutic effects. For example, Lavender, Jasmine and Sandalwood.

These oils are called essential oils and commonly known as volatile oils. They are concentrated liquids extracted from certain parts of the plant such as stems, leaves or flowers. They contain the true essence of the plants they were derived from.

Essential oils are very effective and safe, but like other herbal and pharmaceutical medications, they may not be suitable for some people, or under certain circumstances.  They have several mechanisms of action, which enables them to be effective against pains and several diseases.

2. How do essential oils work?

Actually these essential oils are not all the same, and they can be used in different ways also. Here is a simple explanation of their general mechanism of action:

Inhalation, topical application & smell receptors

What happens when you smoke or inhale black fuels? You may cough. Heavy smoking may damage lungs and cause serious problems. Our bodies are significantly affected by inhaled particles.

Essential oils are inhaled or topically applied. They are easily volatilized. The inhaled particles can reach lungs which are the largest route of administration of drugs. Then, they reach systemic circulation and are distributed via blood to almost all internal organs and tissues of your body.

They also stimulate smell receptors present in the nose which send messages via nervous system to the brain. Then they inhibit or stimulate certain parts in the hypothalamus according to the oil used.

Topically applied oils are absorbed via skin such as creams and ointments. They affect topically and also systemically after they reach systemic circulation.


3. Aromatherapy for pregnancy

According to research done and published in the Aromatherapy A-Z; Connie and Alan Higley book, it was proved that the following essential oils are safe and can be recommended for use in pregnancy:

Bergamot, Chamomile, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Geranium, Grapefruit, Lavender, Lemon, Mandarin, Neroli, Patchouli, Petitgrain, Rosewood, Sandalwood, Tangerine Tea Tree and Ylang Ylang.


And here is your guide to their potential benefits:

Bergamot, Frankincense, Neroli and Geranium oils

Bergamot oil contains 3 characteristic active ingredients: Alpha Pinene, Limonene and flavonoids, which enables it to act as:

Powerful anti-depressant and stimulant. It supplies you with joy, helps you to feel refreshed and energised since it improves the circulation.

Digestive – It increases gastric juice secretion, enhances peristaltic movement of the intestine, which relieves constipation.

Analgesic, anti-spasmodic and sedative. It induces secretion of certain hormones which decrease sensitivity of nerve endings to pain. As a result, it sedates your nervous system, relieves aches, stress and also relaxes your muscles.

It is sometimes recommended to pregnant women who have pain which requires high doses of synthetic drugs.

Deodorant. It has a pleasant odor and also a disinfectant property. It directly inhibits growth of germs causing body-odor.

Both Bergamot and Sandalwood are very helpful for cystitis during pregnancy.

Frankincense oil acts as sedative, warming, antiseptic and astringent. It decreases bleeding.

Geranium and Neroli act as antidepressants, antiseptics and astringents.

Chamomile and Eucalyptus oils

Chamomile oil contains Bisabolol, Matricin, Apigenin and Bisabolol oxides A and B.

It relieves muscle pain and toothache but its main action is anti- inflammation. Use it as follows,

Apply it at irritating area of your skin or mucous membrane.

Inhale it so as to relieve inflammation of respiratory system.

You also can use it internally so as to relieve gastrointestinal tract inflammations.

Eucalyptus oil acts as antiviral and also anti-inflammatory agent. It relieves respiratory congestion.

Patchouli is a sedative and anti-depressant. It also decreases apathy.

Cypress, Mandarin and Lemon oils

They were found to have antiseptic, astringent and diuretic effects.

They also are very helpful for Varicose veins.

Cypress and Mandarin oils relieve pain of hemorrhoids and swollen ankles.

Inhale Lemon oil at morning so as to relieve morning sickness and you’ll see the results yourself.


Grapefruit and Lavender oils

Grapefruit and Lavender oils are very good diuretics. They decrease water retention and also improve digestion.

Lavender oil relieves pain of pregnancy and enhances cell renewal rate.

Tea Tree oil

Use it if you have thrush. It acts as a natural antibiotic and kills bacteria.

Ylang Ylang oil

Use it if you suffer from hypertension. It is safe and will help decrease your blood pressure.

Never use these oils

The following EOs should be avoided at all when you’re pregnant:

Clove, Penneyroyal or Peppermint oils.

Lemongrass, Myrrh, Parsley, Thyme oils.

Rosemary, Sweet marjoram or Fennel oils.

Basil, Juniper, Hyssop, Cedarwood or Cinnamon oils.

They increase risk of abortion. They also may pass placenta and harm the immature organs of the fetus.

Aromatherapy for labour

According to the study published at Clinical Aromatherapy for pregnancy and childbirth – book, these oils were found to be effective in labour:
1. Clary sage
2. Jasmine
3. Rose

They ease labour through increasing number of uterus contractions. They also relax your muscles and help soften ligaments so as to allow your pelvis to expand, which will help the baby to be easily delivered.

According to the well-known mechanisms of action of essential oils, in some cases aromatherapy can help in the following ways, in some cases of women who are trying to conceive.

Of course this is a hugely complex subject, and each case is individual, but here are some of the possible causes that prevent you from getting pregnant.

1- Hormonal imbalance

You know, hormones control vital processes in our bodies such as growth, pregnancy, lactation and ovulation.

2- Sexual impotence – which may result from physical insufficiency or stress.

3- Some health conditions
Of course fertility is both a sensitive and complicated subject, and these few paragraphs barely scrape the surface, however in some cases the below is what can happen for some patients with aromatherapy.

1. It may help regulate hormone synthesis.
2. It can increase blood supply to all your organs, increase rate of synthesis of vitamins and proteins, which will significantly improves your physical sufficiency.
3. It can help you manage stress and supply you with joy and refreshment.

Essential oils for fertility in females:

1. Clary-age oil
It enhances oestrogen production through its direct effect on the pituitary gland. It also is a uterine tonic. Combine it with Geranium.

2. Coriander and Fennel
These oils can increase oestrogen levels and vaginal secretions.

3. Frankincense
It calms sexual nervous tension and emotional wounds.

4. Geranium and Lavender
They control endocrine system.

5. Tarragon
It regulates erratic menstrual cycles and relieves pain of menstruation.

Essential oils for male infertility:
Blue Spruce
It increases levels of testosterone.

Special warnings before use

Please take care
1. Use Bergamot oil at night. It is a photo-synthesising drug which may cause burns on skin exposed to sun light.
2. Don’t drink high amount of chamomile.
3. Don’t use Cypress oil until you are at your fifth month of pregnancy.
4. Don’t use Geranium oil until you are at your third month of pregnancy.
5. Make sure that you use pure EOs and not adulterated.
6. Essential oils are concentrated. They should be diluted at first.
7. Using concentrated oils may cause severe irritation.
8. Choose 3 EOs or more. Take few drops of each and mix them well.
9. Read the label on the bottle before use so as to know the proper route of administration.
10. Orally used EOs should be diluted with water.
11. Topically applied EOs should be diluted with carrier oils such as Kukui Nut oil, Sweet almond oil and Olive oil.
12. Make sure that you don’t have any allergic reaction against the specified EOs by doing the allergy test. Do it as follows,
13. Place light layer of the EOs on your arm and wait to see the results.
14. EOs should not be used in the eyes, inside the ear canal, or in open wounds.
15. Talk to your pharmacist about your EOs and ask him to help you.


1. Aromatherapy A-Z; connie and Alan Higley, and Pat Leatham, Hay House, Inc., 1998
2. Tiran D. 2004. Clinical Aromatherapy for pregnancy and childbirth. 2nd ed. Edinburgh, Elsevier
3. Adams J, Lui CW, Sibbritt D, et al. 2009. Women’s use of complementary and alternative medicine during pregnancy: a critical review of the literature. Birth. 36(3):237-45
4. Basch E, Foppa I, Liebowitz R, et al. 2004. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia Miller). J Herb Pharmacother. 4(2):63-78.
5. Bastard J, Tiran D. 2006. Aromatherapy and massage for antenatal anxiety: its effect on the fetus. Complement Ther Clin Pract 12(1):48-54
6. Butani L, Afshinnik A, Johnson J et al. 2003. Amelioration of tacrolimus-induced nephrotoxicity in rats using juniper oil. Transplantation 76(2):306-311
7. NHS. 2011. Are complementary therapies safe during pregnancy? NHS Choices. www.nhs.uk [Accessed May 2013]

Midwife sonographer facilitated

Consultant Led, Centre of Medical Excellence 


All articles on the blog and website are intended as information only. Please do not consider any of the information provided here as a substitute for medical advice. At all times seek medical advice directly with your own doctor and medical team.


This website was formerly Merrion Fetal Health. The clinic has undergone a rebrand and is now known as Merrion Ultrasound.