Us ladies all know the pain that comes with menstruation, almost to the point where we dread the monthly ritual. For some of us, pain relievers and oral contraception simply don’t work and it is incredibly infuriating. Around 40% of women will suffer from symptoms such as bloating, tender breasts, mood swings, and lack of concentration.
However, it looks like our pain may be relieved soon! Coming onto the market in October is Livia, a medical device marketed as the “off switch for menstrual pain”. The website describes it as “a drug-free solution for menstrual pain. With one single touch, the tiny device closes the ‘pain gates’ by stimulating the nerves and blocking the pain from passing to the brain.”
The device is a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), similar to what is used in physical therapy, but it is specially designed for menstruation cramps. This means it will be much more effective towards period pain than regular TENS units. All you have to do is attach the two gel pads to the areas closest to the pain (lower abdomen recommended) and the attached device will clip onto your pants or any other item of clothing. There are levels of intensity that can be adjusted with the button provided.
According to Buzzfeed’s talk with pain specialist Dr. Jen Gunter, the purpose behind the idea is to create vibrations that travel faster than pain. This mean that the brain will receive this message first, and thus close off the incoming pain signals. Buzzfeed staff were given samples of the product to try out and was met with positive experiences and some variation of pain relief. But it wasn’t as significant as the video claims: that Livia can significantly reduce or even eliminate the pain, and it is instantaneous.
TENS therapy is not new, and Livia not an amazing invention that is unique to its time. Dr. Jen Gunter said that using TENS to treat menstrual pain is “actually very sound” as she uses high frequency TENS to treat those who suffer from period pain. In fact, a review by Cochrane Collaboration confirms this.
What we don’t know is the frequency of Livia and based off the results from Buzzfeed, it may not be as high as regular TENS units. The review states that “high-frequency TENS may help but there is not enough evidence to assess the effect of low-frequency TENS.” While the company’s CEO and founder Chen Nachum claims the frequency of Livia is better at treating period pain than other TENS, we can only go by his word.
Based on their studies, according to Vox, Nachum said they have tested the device on 163 women in two different trials. The results were positive, with more than 80 percent having experienced relief from period pain with the device. They are currently working on another study, which will include about 60 women.
Despite the issues with Livia, raising awareness on pain relief for women is a positive aspect that has come out of this campaign. Livia is all about helping women feel better on their period and giving them the relief to go about their usual routine. It also validates and understands their pain. Maybe this is step to acceptance of women’s health in the work place, and hopefully Livia is able to help us ladies out.