I tried a £100 electro-therapy treatment to see if it would stop my period pain
And it actually kind of worked
Girls who get menstrual cramps know all the tricks: hot water bottles, eating chocolate and drinking a lot of tea, to name a few. But when you’ve got to be out and about all day and can’t wallow in bed eating and crying, the easiest solution can be popping two ibuprofen back. But for some this is an unnatural solution and causes problems like inflammation of the stomach lining, as well as damage to the liver and kidneys.
So I tried Livia – a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator device (idk what that really means either), which uses the principals of electrotherapy to "switch off" menstrual pain. It claims to be "the closest thing to a natural treatment" and works by sending continuous high frequency electrical signals to block out the pain signals being sent to the brain. Oh, and it costs $150.
My period pains are normally really intense for the first couple of days, so I was up for trying anything. And surprisingly, what was marketed as a load of long-worded science crap kinda worked.
8am: The cramps have officially begun and I’m resisting the temptation to swallow a couple of ibuprofen, because it seriously hurts.
8.50am: I finally arrive at work and the cramps are really bad. I rip the packaging open and figure out how to get the Livia on as quickly as I can.
There is a little pink pod which attaches to two electrode pads with sticky gel things on. You plug it in and stick it on your body, which looks like you’re about to give your lower abdomen CPR.
9am: I’m all plugged in and testing the strength to see what feels right. It’s really weird and tickles a lot. It was also a little painful when turned up too high. It seems finding the correct setting is essential.
My favourite thing about the Livia so far is how cute it is. The pink pod has a clip so it can attach to your clothes. It’s like an iPod shuffle, I feel very early noughties.
9.30am: After wearing the Livia for half an hour, my cramps have definitely died down. I feel a little sick but I haven’t eaten breakfast yet. So far, I think it’s helping.
10.30am: I’m getting to used wearing it now and the pain is almost completely gone. However, the constant sensation is really tickling me and it’s getting a bit itchy.
11am: In the manual it says this should also help with your mood. I can confirm this is currently not the case. I’m feeling cranky.
11.10am: I’ve been hit with a big wave of cramp so I’ve cranked up the intensity. It’s helped mostly by distracting me, but the vibrations are calming the pain down a lot too.
12 noon: I’m turning it off as I’m literally wriggling around in my chair because it’s tickling me so much, making me kind of wanting to rip them off.
12.45pm: My cramps are always worse after changing a tampon so I turned the intensity up, and it has stopped the pain. I’m starting to think this thing really works.
For the rest of the day I decided to only turn it on when I need it and whenever a wave comes, put it on high intensity. This might not be the best way to do it but the constant tickling is a bit annoying.
I was going to wear it to the pub but decided I’d had enough after having had it on for almost 10 hours, which is the maximum amount of time you’re supposed to wear it in one day. Plus I was feeling a little shy about wearing it on my trousers.
I woke up after a nice lie in and immediately began having cramps. I popped the electrodes on in bed and watched TV until I could be bothered to move. I found it more relaxing than trying to swallow a pain killer as soon as I woke up, especially as I was now used to the sensation.
I eventually got up and prepared myself for a late afternoon of bottomless brunch. I clipped my cute pink pod onto my jeans (pink to match) and headed out.
Wearing my Livia on the tube felt a little odd, and I had a strange sensation everyone knew I was on my period. Plus I was trying to take selfies of my midriff. But generally I don’t think it was that noticeable, and no one would know what it was anyway.
Once I arrived at brunch, my friends were intrigued, and the girls were very excited about the prospect of an easy solution to menstrual cramps. The consensus was: love the colour, but is it worth the hassle and money? I’m still deciding that for myself.
My male friend on the other hand said that it looked like a tiny colonoscopy bag, which was a bit rude. I made him try it on to see how it felt and I’m pretty sure he enjoyed it.
The device does help period pains, especially if your cramps are debilitating. It feels natural and really helps when you feel a bad wave coming on. But it does get really itchy if you wear it for too long, which was a lil irritating.
I felt it was worth having, as it meant I didn’t have to stay at home because the cramps were so bad, and allowed me to carry on with life as normal, which was quite liberating. But it’s a shame it’s so expensive, meaning it’s probably pretty unaccessible for most women. So, tbh, it’s probably easiest to stick with the hot water bottle and Cadbury’s.
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