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AU Registered Medical Device
12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

Period Pain Machines: Definition & How They Work

Wireless TENS machines with refill pads

Period pain, also known as dysmenorrhoea, affects a significant number of women. Traditional remedies, such as painkillers and heating pads, have provided some relief but are not always effective for everyone. Thus, many look for alternatives like period pain machines. These devices use low-voltage electrical currents to relieve pain. They are stimulator devices with electrode pads that are attached to the skin near the painful area. With this technology, the electric stimulation can be adjusted to provide relief without discomfort.

Primary dysmenorrhoea is caused by a hormone called prostaglandin, which is released during the menstrual cycle. This hormone causes the uterus to contract, triggering cramps. Hence, women feel dull, continuous throbbing aches in the lower abdomen and back. The discomfort may also last for days. In this article, we will explore all about period pain devices, how they work, and safety precautions when using them.

What Are Period Pain Machines?

Period pain machines, or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machines, are electronic devices that use mild electrical currents to stimulate the underlying nerves. They can use various techniques, such as massage, heat therapy, or vibration. The device is lightweight and portable, with a set of adhesive electrode pads. The pads deliver electrical pulses through the skin, producing tingling effects.

The device has a control unit to adjust the pulse’s intensity, frequency, and width. This enables individuals to customise the settings to their comfort level. Moreover, it comes in two types: standard and wireless units. A standard TENS unit has lead wires connecting the remote control to the electrode pads. It requires manual assembly of attaching the wires before using the device.

On the other hand, a wireless TENS device is more convenient, as the electrodes can be attached directly to the skin without any lead cables. Devices like the iTENS utilise Bluetooth technology to connect to a smartphone app. Then, from the app, individuals can adjust and control the stimulation settings without restrictions on movement.

Benefits of Using the Device

  • Period pain devices can provide targeted pain relief to the lower abdomen.
  • They can help relax the muscles in the pelvic area, reducing cramps and discomfort.
  • Their stimulation levels are adjustable based on the severity of the pain, thus providing optimal relief.
  • The machines offer a non-invasive and drug-free approach to managing menstrual cramps. Therefore, it reduces the potential side effects associated with medications.
  • Period pain devices are compact and portable, allowing individuals to use them discreetly and carry them wherever needed.
  • The machines are easy to use, and individuals can use them every day until the end of their periods.

Operating the TENS settings through a smartphone app guide

How Do Period Pain Machines Work?

Period pain machines generate low-voltage electrical impulses targeting the sensory nerves to relieve pain. These pulses help stimulate the body’s natural pain-relieving mechanisms in two ways: block pain signals and release endorphins. The first method uses high-frequency stimulation to induce the closure of the “neural gates” in the spinal cord. As a result, it hinders the pain signals from reaching the brain.

The second method uses low-frequency stimulation to trigger endorphin production. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that help reduce discomfort by inhibiting the nerve cells to produce pain messages. Additionally, these hormones help improve mood and allow for better sleep quality. Hence, many women may feel lasting effects for hours.

Furthermore, these machines boost blood circulation, reducing inflammation and relaxing tensed muscles. This helps to alleviate cramping sensations and relieve fatigue and soreness. Lastly, the gentle vibrations from a TENS unit can help distract from contractions. As such, these devices can help relieve cramps and discomfort associated with dysmenorrhoea, including endometriosis pain.

How to Use the Device

Operating a TENS machine is simple. The first step is to place the electrodes on the lower abdomen or below the belly button. An alternative placement would be the lower back, depending on where it hurts more. Then, turn on the device and adjust the frequency and duration.

Start at the lowest intensity level and slowly increase until reaching the desired effects. It is advisable to try different modes or settings to find the most effective relief. Some may use mixed-frequency TENS or a combination of high and low electric currents. Lastly, set the treatment session for 15 to 30 minutes.

Woman holding her stomach

Safety Precautions When Using Period Pain Machines

Period pain machines are generally safe to use, but there are certain safety precautions to follow. Firstly, ensure the device is in good working condition with no frayed wires and the pads adhere properly. Secondly, place the electrodes on the muscle belly, avoiding the spine or bones. Also, avoid putting them on open wounds, rashes, or swollen or infected areas, as it may further irritate the skin.

As an added safety measure, avoid using TENS on any part of the head or face, throat, and both sides of the chest and trunk at the same time. This precaution helps prevent adverse effects due to the sensitive structures in the area. Moreover, avoid turning the frequency or intensity level too high. The device may cause slight muscle twitches, but it should not cause rigorous contractions.

If the stimulation causes further pain or discomfort, check the settings and alter them until it suits the pain level. Furthermore, do not use the device while showering or near water, as it may cause electrical shocks. Likewise, do not use the device while sleeping, as it may cause burns due to prolonged pad placement.

When to See a Doctor

It is vital to seek medical advice before using a TENS device or starting any therapy. People with period pain may consult a doctor if they have pre-existing conditions, such as endometriosis, heart disease, or epilepsy. In addition, TENS is not advisable for use near implanted devices.

The doctor will assess the individual’s condition and recommend a suitable device or setting for their needs. Additionally, see a doctor immediately if adverse side effects occur while using the device or come with other symptoms. Lastly, it is vital to seek advice if debilitating period pain does not improve with conservative treatments.


Period pain machines are portable devices that offer a drug-free and non-invasive way to relieve menstrual pain. It delivers low-voltage electrical currents to the targeted area, particularly in the lower abdomen and back. They work by stimulating the nerve cells to block pain impulses from reaching the brain and release endorphins. Moreover, it helps boost circulation to reduce inflammation and relax the muscles. Thus, these actions help in the significant reduction of pain.

Operating the TENS machine is simple, involving a few steps. It involves correct pad placement, adjustment of settings, and setting the duration. Furthermore, it is essential to follow safety precautions when using the device. For example, avoid infected skin or sensitive areas. Individuals with certain medical conditions may need to consult a health professional before starting a treatment. Finally, seek medical attention if the pain worsens or persists for days.

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