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TENS Menstrual Pain: How Electrotherapy Helps in Addressing Period Cramps

A woman clutching her abdomen due to period pain

Dealing with period pain is a common and recurring issue for women around the world. Fortunately, there is a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS for menstrual pain. It is a battery-operated device that delivers electrical pulses to the nerve fibres. Accordingly, this electrical stimulation helps in addressing menstrual cramp pain in various mechanisms. This includes blocking the transmission of pain signals, prompting the release of endorphins, or promoting blood circulation.

Many women suffer from menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea each month, affecting their quality of life. Traditional methods of pain relief, such as opioid drugs, heat packs or heat patches, and hot water bottles, may not always provide the desired results. However, technological advancements have led to the development of a new approach, the TENS therapy. This article will present TENS for addressing period cramps, including how it helps and how to conduct it.

What is a TENS for Menstrual Pain?

TENS for menstrual pain involves using a small electronic device to send low-voltage electrical currents to targeted areas of the body. Accordingly, healthcare professionals and pain specialists often recommend this method to provide period pain relief. It is an effective and safe treatment option for many women. They can use it at home, at work, or on the go.

There are two main types of TENS devices: wired and wireless. Wired TENS machines typically comprise a unit with control buttons and lead cables that connect to the electrodes. Meanwhile, wireless TENS units eliminate the need for wires, offering more freedom of movement during use. Users can control the treatment session manually or through a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth technology.

Many TENS machines for period pain come with various features. This aims to optimise the user experience and pain relief effectiveness. This may include an adjustable intensity scale to customise the strength of electrical impulses. Also, it may extend pre-set programs for treating painful periods directly. Additionally, some units may offer multiple channels and rechargeable batteries.

Benefits of Electrotherapy

  • Non-invasive: it does not involve any invasive procedures like injections.
  • Drug-free: TENS provides relief from menstrual period cramps without the need for drugs or medications.
  • Portability: TENS devices are typically compact and lightweight. This allows people to use them discreetly and conveniently, whether at home or on the go.
  • Customisable: many TENS units feature adjustable settings to modify the frequency, intensity, and duration of electric current. This provides users with a personalised treatment.
  • Cost-effective: once the unit is obtained, it can be used repeatedly without the ongoing expense of purchasing medications or other pain relief products.

A woman using TENS on her lower back

How a TENS for Menstrual Pain Helps in Alleviating Discomfort

TENS for menstrual pain helps in alleviating discomfort through several mechanisms. One way TENS aids is by stimulating the natural painkillers of the body, known as endorphins. When electrical impulses stream in the body, they trigger the release of endorphins. These natural chemicals can help reduce pain perception and create a sense of well-being.

Furthermore, TENS therapy operates on the principle of Pain Gate Theory. According to this theory, the electrical pulses can effectively close the gate to the transmission of pain signals to the brain. As a result, the brain perceives fewer pain signals. This leads to a reduction in the perception of pain levels due to menstruation and any associated discomfort.

In addition, TENS may help improve blood flow in the treatment area. The electrical stimulation can promote vasodilation, which is the widening of blood vessels. Improved blood circulation can facilitate the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and tissues. Hence, this potentially aids people with period pain and promotes a sense of relaxation.

Low and High Frequencies

TENS is effective in managing period pain discomfort through the use of both low and high frequencies of electrical currents. However, the two settings serve different purposes and can offer distinct benefits. Low-frequency TENS involves the application of electrical pulses at a range typically below 10 Hz. This setting is believed to stimulate the natural pain relief mechanisms of the body.

Meanwhile, high-frequency TENS involves the application of electrical impulses at a range above 50 Hz. This is thought to act through a phenomenon known as pain gate mechanism. Nevertheless, low frequencies are beneficial for chronic conditions, while high frequencies are valuable for acute cramps.

A guide on how to operate the iTENS application

How to Conduct a TENS for Menstrual Pain

Applying TENS for menstrual pain involves a straightforward process. One should start by connecting the electrodes to the central unit using lead cables or via a smartphone through Bluetooth for wireless. After that, the user should identify the appropriate pad placement. Nevertheless, it is crucial to understand and follow the electrode placement guide.

Once the pads are in place, the user can turn on the device. TENS units may allow individuals to adjust the setting or select a pre-set program. Hence, select the appropriate frequency, intensity, or duration, or choose a program for menstrual cramps. Accordingly, it is important to start with the lowest settings and gradually increase them to a comfortable level.

During the session, it is vital to take note of the different sensations. The duration of the treatment can vary based on individual needs. Generally, TENS therapy lasts between 15 to 30 minutes, and take breaks for longer sessions. After the treatment, the user can turn off the unit and carefully remove the electrode pads from the skin. Store the equipment properly for future use.

Electrode Placement Guide

When using TENS for period cramps, the placement of the electrodes plays a crucial role. This is to target specific areas of discomfort and achieve optimal therapeutic outcomes. For menstrual pain, the electrode pads are typically placed on the lower abdomen and lower back. These are the areas where many individuals experience cramping and discomfort during menstrual cycles.

The electrode pads should be positioned on clean, dry skin. Do not place the pads on areas with broken skin or open wounds to avoid skin irritation and further discomfort. The precise placement of pads may vary based on the specific location of the pain.


In conclusion, TENS for menstrual pain is an effective method for relieving period discomfort. The treatment is recommended by professionals as a safe relief option for menstrual cramps. Accordingly, it is a therapy that uses a wired or wireless device to deliver electrical currents. This electrical stimulation helps in alleviating pain by blocking pain signals, triggering the release of endorphins, and promoting blood circulation. Also, the electrical pulses can stream in high and low frequencies.

The TENS devices offer numerous benefits. It is non-invasive, drug-free, customisable, portable, and cost-effective. With such mechanisms, users can efficiently conduct or use TENS devices. One needs to identify the location of discomfort and place the electrodes. Then, they will adjust the settings or choose a pre-set program for period cramps. The electrode placement for period pain is typically on the lower abdomen, lower back or both. Those who want TENS devices may check the online retailer iTENS Australia.

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