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Period TENS: How It Works to Alleviate Menstrual Pain

A woman clutching her abdomen due to period cramps

Dealing with the pain that comes with menstrual cycles every month can be challenging. Fortunately, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS for period cramps can provide a method of pain relief. It utilises a machine unit that sends electrical pulses to the nerve fibres. Accordingly, this pulse therapy works in various ways to alleviate painful periods. It blocks pain signals, stimulates the production of endorphins, improves blood flow, and uses a range of frequencies.

Period pain affects a large percentage of women. It can be debilitating, interfering with daily activities and the quality of life. Traditional period pain relief may include heating pads, hot water bottles, and medications. However, they may not always be practical or come with negative effects. Meanwhile, TENS pulse therapy offers a safe and effective relief for period pain discomfort. This article will present TENS therapy for menstrual cramps, including how it works and how to apply it.

What is TENS for Period Cramps?

Menstrual pain arises from the uterus contracting to help shed its lining during the monthly cycle of a woman. This natural process can cause discomfort for many. It ranges from mild cramps to severe pain. Accordingly, this discomfort can affect daily activities. Nevertheless, individuals often use various remedies to manage this natural pain, including the TENS period pain device.

TENS for period cramps is a therapeutic approach that uses a machine unit. The device delivers electrical currents to the body through electrodes placed on the skin. Furthermore, the utility of TENS extends to a broad audience. Adolescent women experiencing first menstrual cycles to adults in premenopausal can benefit from TENS. Healthcare professionals and pain specialists often recommend TENS therapy.

Furthermore, TENS units come in traditional and modern designs. Traditional machines are often bulkier and may come with physical wires. In contrast, modern TENS devices have embraced technological advancements. They are more compact and user-friendly. These newer models often feature wireless capabilities, smartphone integration, and pre-set programs.

Causes of Menstrual Cramps

  • Uterine Contractions: It is the primary cause of menstrual cramps, as it helps to shed its lining.
  • Hormonal Fluctuations: Hormone levels, especially prostaglandins and estrogen, fluctuate during the menstrual cycle. High levels of these can contribute to more severe pain.
  • Endometriosis Pain: Occurs when the tissue lining the inside of the uterus grows outside, causing significant discomfort.
  • Fibroids: Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous uterine growths that can cause pressure and discomfort during menstruation.
  • Adenomyosis: Similar to endometriosis, it involves the inner lining of the uterus breaking through the muscle wall of the uterus. It causes heavy bleeding and severe discomfort.

A large wing iTENS and two packs of refill gel pads

How Does TENS for Period Cramps Work?

Firstly, the Pain Gate Theory is central to how TENS for period cramps work. When the device transmits electrical impulses to the nerve fibres, it essentially “distracts” the pain receptors of the body. The nerve pathways can only pass limited information. Hence, the increase in non-painful signals can make it challenging for pain signals to get through to the brain. It reduces period pain perception.

Secondly, TENS stimulates the production and release of endorphins. These are the natural pain-relieving properties of the body. Endorphins are chemicals that act similarly to drugs like morphine. Electric currents signal the brain to release these chemicals when they reach the body. Higher levels of endorphins can significantly reduce the sensation of period discomfort.

Also, the TENS device can enhance blood flow. Improved blood circulation is crucial as it helps to relax the muscles and provides essential nutrients that aid healing. Additionally, the electrical impulses from TENS can stream in a range of frequencies. Low-frequency TENS operates below 10 Hz (Hertz), while high-frequency TENS works above 50 Hz.

Benefits of TENS Therapy

Foremost, TENS therapy is a non-invasive and drug-free relief. It eliminates the need for incisions, injections, or the intake of pharmaceutical drugs. Another key benefit is the customisability of TENS. Users can adjust the frequency of treatments, intensity levels, and duration. Thus, it allows individuals to find the most effective settings for their needs.

TENS devices are also highly portable. It allows users to continue their daily activities without interruption. The compact size of the units means they can be worn discreetly, providing continuous relief while at home or on the move. Additionally, TENS therapy can be used as an adjunctive treatment.

A person placing TENS electrode on the lower back of another person

How to Apply TENS for Period Cramps

Applying TENS for period cramps involves simple steps. Begin by preparing the device and the skin in the treatment area. Next, place the electrode pads on the skin. It is essential to refer to the recommendations of professionals or the manual for specific guidance. Accordingly, attach the electrodes to the central machine via cables or to a smartphone via Bluetooth for wireless. Then, turn on the TENS unit.

Depending on the device, users can adjust the settings. They can modify the pulse amplitude, frequency, and duration. A standard recommendation for menstrual pain is to use a high frequency with a comfortable intensity. Nevertheless, start with the lowest setting and gradually increase it to a comfortable level. It should not be painful or uncomfortable. Also, some have pre-set programs.

Use the TENs unit for about 20 to 30 minutes. Some may utilise the device for more extended periods. However, it is vital to take breaks to avoid overstimulation. After using the TENS unit, turn it off and gently remove the electrode pads. Clean both the skin and the pads following the instructions of the manufacturer.

Electrode Placement Guide

Correct electrode placement is the cornerstone of effective TENS therapy. For menstrual cramps, the technique targets the abdominal and lower back areas. Position electrodes on either side of the pain centre in the lower abdomen to address the discomfort in the abdominal area. It is essential to avoid placing the pads directly over or near the reproductive organs.

Additionally, menstrual pain often radiates towards the lower back. Place two electrodes on either side of the lower back, avoiding the spine. Nevertheless, maintain distance between the electrode pads to ensure the balanced delivery of electrical impulses.

Conclusion

Overall, uterine contractions, hormonal fluctuations, endometriosis, fibroids, and adenomyosis are the common causes of menstrual pain. Fortunately, using TENS for period cramps is an effective solution for managing the discomfort. It uses a device to deliver electrical currents to the body. The units are available in traditional and modern designs. Nevertheless, TENS therapy works in many ways. It interrupts the transmission of pain signals, triggers the release of endorphins, and enhances blood flow.

Furthermore, the electrical pulses from the TENS unit can stream in low (below 10 Hz) and high (above 50 Hz) frequencies. Moreover, TENS therapy presents numerous benefits. It is non-invasive, drug-free, customisable, portable, and can be used as an adjunctive treatment. TENS treatment is easy to apply. One must place the electrodes, turn on the device, and adjust the settings. Accordingly, the common pad placement for period pain is the lower abdomen and lower back.

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