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

TENS Menstrual Pain Relief: How It Works to Alleviate Period Cramps

A woman clutching her abdomen due to period pain

Every month, millions of women experience menstrual cramps. Fortunately, there is a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS for menstrual pain relief. It is a treatment that works by using a device that delivers electrical pulses to the body. Consequently, this pulse therapy operates through several mechanisms to alleviate painful periods. Foremost, it blocks the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Additionally, TENS prompts the release of endorphins and enhances blood flow.

Period pain (dysmenorrhea) is a common issue for many women. This can be debilitating, impacting the quality of life. Traditional period pain relief methods may include heating padshot water bottles, and medications. However, they are not always effective for some individuals or may have undesirable side effects. Nevertheless, this has led to the development of TENS as a relief from period cramps. This article will present TENS for period pain discomfort, how it works, and how to conduct it.

What is TENS for Menstrual Pain Relief?

Menstrual discomfort, also known as dysmenorrhea, refers to the cramping discomfort that many women experience before and during the day of menstruation. This common period discomfort can range from acute muscle discomfort to severe pain. Nevertheless, this ailment can impact daily activities and the quality of life of some individuals. Fortunately, one effective treatment for period pain is TENS therapy.

TENS for menstrual pain relief is a therapy that involves the use of a small, battery-powered device to send electrical currents to the body. The delivery is done through the electrode pads placed on the skin. Furthermore, health professionals and therapists usually recommend TENS to their patients to alleviate painful menstruation. Also, people with period pain may use TENS devices at home.

The TENS units are available in both wired and wireless types. Wired TENS devices require the use of lead cables to link the central machine to the electrodes. On the other hand, wireless TENS devices do not have connecting wires. Nevertheless, both devices offer various features. This may include a range of frequencies, intensity levels, pulse duration, and pre-set programs.

Causes of Menstrual Cramps

  • Prostaglandins: the lining of the uterus releases chemicals during menstruation. This can cause the uterine muscles to contract.
  • Uterine contractions: strong or irregular contractions can result in significant discomfort.
  • Endometriosis pain: tissue similar to the lining of the uterine grows outside the uterus. Hence, this leads to inflammation, scarring, and severe menstrual discomfort.
  • Fibroids: non-cancerous growths in the uterus can cause increased period cramps.
  • Pelvic pain or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): it is an infection of the female reproductive organs.
  • Cervical stenosis: narrowing obstruction of the cervix can impede the flow of menstrual blood. This can lead to pressure and cramping in the uterus.

A small and large wing iTENS with refill gel pads

How TENS for Menstrual Pain Relief Works

The TENS for menstrual pain relief works through several mechanisms. Firstly, when TENS delivers electrical impulses, they travel through nerve fibres, stimulating the release of endorphins. These are the natural pain-relieving chemicals of the body. Endorphins act and bind to opioid receptors. As a result, it helps diminish period pain perception and produce a sense of well-being.

Secondly, TENS therapy targets the Theory of Pain Gate. According to this theory, the transmission of pain signals can be modulated by non-painful stimuli, such as electrical signals from TENS. These currents travel along the nerve pathway and can effectively close the “pain gate” in the spinal cord. Hence, this blocks the transmission of pain messages, reducing the sense of pain.

Furthermore, TENS may contribute to improved blood circulation. TENS can promote vasodilation. Therefore, it can potentially reduce discomfort associated with poor blood flow and promote the delivery of oxygen and nutrients. Additionally, the electric currents can stream in a range of frequencies. High-frequency TENS operates above 50 Hz, while low-frequency TENS works below 10 Hz.


TENS therapy offers a range of benefits. Foremost, TENS treatment is non-invasive. It does not require any penetration or incision into the body. Secondly, TENS therapy is drug-free. It does not involve the use of drugs or chemicals to alleviate menstrual cramps. This can be particularly beneficial for people who want to minimise their reliance on medications.

Thirdly, TENS devices offer customisability. This allows users to adjust the pulse amplitudes, stimulation intensity, and pulse duration. Fourthly, TENS therapy is cost-effective over the long term. It does not incur costs associated with medications. Lastly, TENS units are portable, allowing individuals to use them discreetly.

A woman using TENS on her lower back

How to Conduct TENS for Menstrual Pain Relief

Conducting TENS for menstrual pain relief involves several straightforward steps. Start by preparing the TENS unit and ensuring that it is adequately charged or has fresh batteries. Then, locate the treatment region and prepare the skin over it. Afterwards, place the electrode pads on the skin. Knowing where to place the pads and adhering to the proper pad placement is vital in this step.

Turn on the TENS device after the pads are in place. The unit may allow the user to adjust the settings (frequency, intensity, and duration). Additionally, some advanced models may extend pre-set programs. Hence, choose a program for period pain relief. Nevertheless, starting with the lowest setting and gradually increasing it to a comfortable level is essential for safe and effective therapy.

Once the settings are adjusted, start the TENS therapy session. The user may feel a gentle tingling sensation, which is a normal response. During the therapy, monitor the comfort level and make necessary adjustments. The treatment duration typically lasts 25 to 30 minutes. After completing the session, power off the TENS unit and carefully remove the electrodes from the skin.

Where to Place the Electrodes?

When using TENS units for period cramps, it is vital to be mindful of the proper pad placement. To address menstrual cramps originating from the lower abdomen, consider placing the pads in a symmetrical position. This is on either side of the lower abdominal area.

Meanwhile, individuals experiencing period pain radiating to the lower back, position the pads along the lower back area. It is also best to place the pads symmetrically. Nevertheless, avoid placing the electrode pads on sensitive areas and broken skin. Additionally, maintain a spacing between the pads to balance the delivery of electrical stimulation.


Overall, prostaglandins, uterine contractions, endometriosis, pelvic pain, fibroids, and cervical stenosis are the common causes of period cramps. Fortunately, TENS for menstrual pain relief is an effective solution for many women. It is a therapy that uses a wired or wireless device to deliver electrical currents to the body. Furthermore, TENS works based on the Pain Gate Theory, the release of endorphins, and the promotion of blood flow. Also, the electrical pulses can stream in high and low frequencies.

TENS therapy offers a range of benefits. It is non-invasive, drug-free, customisable, cost-effective, and portable. Moreover, conducting TENS treatment for period cramps is a straightforward process. Begin by locating the treatment area. Then, clean the skin and position the electrode pads. Next, turn on the device and adjust the settings. Finally, activate the stimulation and relax. However, it is crucial to know where to place the pads. For period cramps, it is usually in the lower abdomen and lower back.

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