Menstrual cramp pain? TENS therapy could nix it

My Hormonology

Menstrual cramp pain? TENS therapy could nix it

electricGet bad menstrual cramps and want an easy, drug-free solution?

Walk with me…

When I herniated a disc in my back last October, I was in the kind of excruciating pain that made tears involuntarily well in my eyes. I couldn’t walk, sleep, stand or sit. Life was truly bumming.

So, after weeks of hoping the pain would go away on its own (and, surprise surprise, it didn’t), I finally went to a physical therapist who gave me transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy.

My therapist attached electrodes on sticky pads to my skin near the source of my pain, then delivered pulses of a low-voltage electrical current through them for 30 minutes.

As she explained it, TENS therapy is believed to work by stimulating nerves in a way that send signals to the brain that “scramble” pain perception, temporarily easing discomfort.

After my very first treatment, I’d felt more pain relief and had more mobility than I’d had in a long time. And I’d finally gotten a good night’s sleep.

I was immediately sold on its effectiveness and returned back for a few more treatments until my back healed enough that I didn’t need therapy anymore.

So, why oh why am I telling you all this? Two good reasons, actually:

One: A bunch of studies (such as this one, this one and this one) show that TENS therapy can ease the pain of menstrual cramps.

Two: There are portable TENS units you can use right at home, like the wireless Icy Hot Smart Relief (available at drugstores and Amazon) and the truMedic and Santamedical handheld TENS units.

When I strained that bothersome herniated disc last month (Oh, so you can’t lift a 100 lb. bag of dirt after you herniate a disc? Good to know!), I used the Icy hot Smart Relief–and was stunned to discover how similar the pain-quashing effect was compared to visiting a physical therapist. The only differences were that it cost way less money and I didn’t have to wait for an appointment to get it. Double bonus!

So, if you want an easy drug-free way to counter period pain, I recommend trying a portable TENS units like the ones mentioned above.

You simply apply the electrodes to your pelvic area, select the intensity level and let it go to work.

If you’re new to the idea of zapping yourself with an electrical current and wonder what it feels like, it’s like little tingling fingers mildly poking and kneading you.

Of course, as with most pain treatments (and, really, everything in life), there are certain restrictions to heed: People with pacemakers, epilepsy, high blood pressure and heart problems shouldn’t use TENS therapy. Never use it on your head or face. And, if you feel any pain or burning, obviously you should stop using it.

If you’ve tried TENS therapy for menstrual cramps in the past or you try it for the first time, let me know what you thought of it.

Follow me
Latest posts by Gabrielle Lichterman (see all)