Comparison of the Effect of Massage Therapy and Isometric Exercises on Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial

J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2015 Dec;28(6):486-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jpag.2015.02.003. Epub 2015 Mar 5.


Study objective: Dysmenorrhea is the most common cyclic pelvic pain, and it affects the quality of life of many women. We sought to compare the effects of massage and isometric exercises on primary dysmenorrhea.

Design, setting, and participants: We conducted a randomized controlled trial at the dormitories of Shiraz University among 102 students with primary dysmenorrheal.

Interventions: The student groups were randomly divided into massage, isometric exercises, and control groups. The first group received 2 consecutive cycles of effleurage massage with lavender oil. The second group had 8 weeks of isometric exercises. No intervention was performed for the control group.

Main outcome measurements: Pain intensity was measured and recorded by using a visual analog scale. In addition, the duration of pain was measured in hours, and Spielberger's questionnaire was used to measure the anxiety level.

Results: Pain intensity had significantly reduced in the massage and exercises groups; the reduction was more significant in the massage group (P < .001). The results revealed a significant difference among the 3 groups in regard to the mean duration of pain after the third cycle (P = .006). However, no significant difference was found among the 3 groups concerning the mean level of anxiety. The results of intragroup comparisons only showed a significant reduction of anxiety level in the massage group after the third cycle (P = .017).

Conclusion: Based on the present findings, it seems that massage therapy and isometric exercises were effective in reducing some symptoms of dysmenorrhea.

Keywords: Anxiety; Dysmenorrhea; Isometric exercises; Massage; Students.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • Dysmenorrhea / therapy*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lavandula
  • Massage / methods*
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Pain Measurement
  • Plant Oils
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils
  • lavender oil