Period pain can be extremely painful and can disrupt the quality of life. Fortunately, there is a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS machine for menstrual pain. It is a portable, battery-operated device that sends electrical pulses through the skin to the nerve fibres. Accordingly, this electrical stimulation works in different mechanisms to help relieve menstrual cramps. The electrical impulses function based on pain gating, improving blood flow, and prompting the production of endorphins.
Menstrual discomfort, also known as dysmenorrhea, affects a large percentage of women. From mild discomfort to debilitating cramps, the severity of painful periods can vary from person to person. Traditional methods of pain relief, like heating pads, hot water bottles, and pills for pain relief, may not always provide the desired relief. Hence, it led many women to explore alternatives, such as TENS. This article will present TENS for period pain relief, how it works, and how to use it.
What is a TENS Machine for Menstrual Pain?
A TENS machine for menstrual pain is an electronic device that delivers low-voltage electrical current to the body. Accordingly, this non-invasive approach to pain management is commonly employed by individuals seeking relief from period cramps. Also, healthcare professionals and pain specialists utilise TENS as part of their treatment plans for patients experiencing period pain discomfort.
TENS electrical devices are available in both wired and wireless configurations. The wired version typically includes electrode pads connected to the main unit via wires. On the other hand, wireless TENS devices feature electrode pads that communicate with the main unit through wireless technology. Nevertheless, users can control the treatment session manually or through a smartphone via Bluetooth.
These devices have various features to enhance their effectiveness. Many TENS machine units come with adjustable settings. This allows users to customise the pulse amplitudes, pulse widths, and pulse duration. Additionally, some models are designed with pre-set programs specifically tailored for menstrual cramps. This provides users with convenient options for treating period discomfort.
Benefits of Electrotherapy
- Non-invasive and drug-free: it does not require any invasive procedure or intake of oral medications. Hence, it eliminates the side effects.
- Portable: the compact and lightweight nature of TENS enables users to experience pain relief on the go. This allows them to maintain their daily activities without interruption.
- Customisable: users can adjust the device settings to personalise the frequency, intensity, and treatment duration.
- Cost-effective: by offering a non-pharmacological method of pain relief, individuals can reduce their reliance on medications, leading to long-term savings.
- Non-addictive: it offers people the opportunity to address period cramps without the risk of developing dependencies.
How Does a TENS Machine for Menstrual Pain Work?
The TENS machine for menstrual pain operates on the principle of targeting the natural pain control mechanisms of the body. One of the primary ways by which TENS works is through the release of endorphins. These are the natural chemicals of the body that act as natural painkillers. Nevertheless, the electric current can trigger the production of endorphins, creating a sense of well-being.
Another important aspect of how TENS functions is through the Pain Gate Theory. According to this concept, the electrical pulses travel along the nerve fibres, competing with and blocking the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Hence, by closing the gate on the transmission of pain messages, TENS can effectively reduce pain perception and diminish the sensation of period pain.
In addition, electrical stimulation can contribute to the enhancement of blood circulation in the treatment area. This action can help alleviate muscle spasms and reduce the buildup of metabolic by-products. As a result, it helps in relieving menstrual cramps and promotes well-being. The combination of these mechanisms contributes to the overall pain-relieving action of TENS.
Understanding Low and High Frequencies
TENS machines offer a range of frequencies to address period cramps. When set to a low frequency, typically in the range of 1 to 10 Hz, the TENS provides gentle and continuous stimulation. This action is usual for the release of endorphins and for managing chronic pain.
Conversely, when the TENS machine is set to a high frequency, typically above 50 Hz, it delivers rapid and intermittent electrical pulses. This high-frequency mode is known to stimulate the sensory nerves in a way that disrupts the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Accordingly, this is beneficial for addressing acute pain during the period.
How to Use a TENS Machine for Menstrual Pain
Using a TENS machine for menstrual pain involves several simple steps. Before beginning, it is important to ensure the device is properly set up. Therefore, connect the electrodes to the central unit using lead cables or to a smartphone via Bluetooth for wireless. Accordingly, identify the treatment area and prepare it before applying the adhesive electrodes.
In positioning the pads, it is crucial to follow the proper pad placement for optimal relief. Once the electrodes are in place, the user can turn on the TENS device. Most units allow individuals to adjust the settings or choose a pre-set program for period cramps. After that, the user can activate the stimulation. It is important to start with the lowest settings and gradually increase it to comfort level.
The TENS machine can typically be set to a specific duration. This may vary depending on individual needs and the severity of menstrual discomfort. However, the advisable treatment duration lasts between 15 to 30 minutes. For a longer session, it is vital to have breaks before continuing the therapy. Once complete, turn off the unit and carefully remove the electrodes from the skin.
When using TENS for menstrual cramps, electrode placement is essential to effectively target the areas of discomfort. The lower abdomen is a common region for experiencing period cramps. Hence, individuals can place the pads horizontally on either side of the lower abdomen. This allows the stimulation to reach the underlying muscles and nerves.
For individuals who experience lower back pain during menstruation, placing the electrodes on the lower back can be beneficial. The pads can be positioned on either side of the spine, in the region where the individual feels the most discomfort. Also, users can place the pads on the hips and pelvic area.
In conclusion, a TENS machine for menstrual pain is a beneficial tool for relieving period cramps in women. TENS devices are available in wired and wireless functionalities, offering various features to enhance their effectiveness. Accordingly, it works by sending electrical currents to the nerves in the body. This electrical stimulation functions by blocking the pain signals, triggering the release of endorphins, and improving blood flow. Also, the electrical pulses can stream in low and high frequencies.
Using a TENS machine offers a multitude of benefits. It is non-invasive and drug-free, portable, customisable, cost-effective, and non-addictive. Furthermore, it is easy to operate the device. The user must identify the treatment area, position the electrodes, adjust the settings, and activate the stimulation. However, proper pad placement is crucial in the therapy. The usual spots for period cramps are the lower abdomen, lower back, and pelvic region. TENS machines are available in stores, including the online retailer iTENS Australia.