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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

TENS Unit for Period Cramps – What It Is, How To Use, and Safety Guidelines

iTENS small and large wings from iTENS Australia

A TENS unit for period cramps is a portable device used to help manage menstrual pain. TENS, or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, is a type of therapy that uses low-voltage electric currents to reduce pain. The device is easy to use, involving manual adjustment of the intensity and frequency settings. However, it is vital to follow the guidelines for safe use. This includes avoiding contact with the eyes, mouth, broken skin, and sensitive areas like the neck.

Period cramps, also known as primary dysmenorrhoea, can be uncomfortable for many women. The sensation is often characterised by throbbing or dull sensations in the lower abdomen and back. Thus, it can affect daily activities. Using TENS therapy is one of the measures to handle period pain. In this article, we will explore what a TENS unit is, how to use it for menstrual cramps and important safety guidelines to keep in mind.

What is a TENS Unit for Period Cramps

A TENS unit for period cramps consists of a control unit and electrode pads that adhere to the skin. The device generates small electrical impulses and delivers them through the skin to reach the underlying nerves. Moreover, TENS devices come in two main types: traditional and wireless. A traditional device includes wires connecting a handheld remote control and the electrode pads.

On the other hand, a wireless TENS machine incorporates Bluetooth technology to connect remotely to a smartphone or mobile device. In addition, it utilises a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery, making it more portable and energy-efficient. Thus, for women with period pain, a portable device can make pain relief more comfortable.

TENS machines have adjustable settings. Users can adjust the stimulation levels based on the severity of the pain. Hence, it provides tailored treatment for optimal results. Furthermore, advanced devices have pre-set modes for specific conditions. For example, the wireless iTENS includes a program for abdominal cramping or massage modes for muscle relaxation.

How it Works to Help Manage Pain

  • A TENS machine sends electrical pulses from the electrodes through the skin.
  • Setting the pulses at high frequency stimulates the sensory nerves to block pain signals. This is based on the Gate Control Theory of Pain, wherein the spinal cord has a gating mechanism.
  • Through electrical stimulation, the spinal nerves hinder the transmission of pain signals to the brain.
  • Setting the pulses at low frequency encourages endorphin production. Endorphins are natural chemicals that help reduce pain sensations.
  • The rhythmic pulses promote blood circulation. This increases oxygen and blood flow to the area, resulting in reduced inflammation.

Operating the TENS stimulation settings in the app

How to Use TENS Unit for Period Cramps

Using a TENS unit for period cramps involves a few sets of procedures. The first step is to properly set up the device. Connect the cables to the device, ensuring there are no broken wires. Then, clean the area of electrode placement. Remove any oil, lotion, or dirt to increase the optimal adhesion and conductivity of the TENS machine.

Once the electrodes are in place, turn on the device and adjust the settings. Start with a low intensity and gradually increase until it produces a mild tingling or pulsing sensation. Moreover, the recommended duration for period pain is 15 to 30 minutes, up to three times a day or as needed.

During the session, it is advisable to avoid vigorous movements or activities that may dislodge the electrodes. It is important to note that TENS should not cause more pain. If experiencing discomfort, check the settings and reduce them to a more comfortable level. Trying various combinations of frequency and intensity can help find the most effective results based on individual needs.

Proper Pad Placement

The placement of the TENS electrodes is important for effective treatment. To treat period cramps, position two pads on either side of the lower abdomen. One pad is near the belly button, and another is above the pubic region. Ensure the pads are not too close or wide apart from each other.

It is also possible to place another set on the lower back. Position the electrodes on both sides of the spinal column. However, avoid areas with irritation, such as redness, rashes, or infection. Additionally, do not place the pads near open wounds and avoid areas with metal implants.

Woman frowning because of period cramps

Safety Considerations When Using a TENS Unit for Period Cramps

When using a TENS unit for period cramps, there are several safety considerations that need to be taken into account. Firstly, follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer or healthcare professional. They can provide guidance on the appropriate settings based on individual needs and medical history. Secondly, avoid sensitive areas or broken skin.

Thirdly, do not exceed the recommended intensity level. High intensity may cause skin irritation or burns. In addition, take regular breaks to prevent overstimulation of the nerves. Prolonged usage may cause nerve damage, skin burns, or muscle fatigue. Thus, monitor the condition of the skin while using the device. Also, check there are no open wires that may cause electric shocks.

Furthermore, avoid using the TENS unit while sleeping, driving, or near water sources. Lastly, be aware of the potential side effects. Some people may experience allergic reactions due to the electrodes. If side effects occur, discontinue use and allow the skin to rest. Individuals with sensitive skin may opt for hypoallergenic TENS pads.

When to Seek Medical Help

Although TENS machines for period pain are available for self-treatment, it is crucial to seek medical help if the pain does not subside. Persistent pelvic pain may indicate an underlying condition, such as endometriosis and irritable bowel syndrome. Thus, consulting a doctor can help find an appropriate treatment plan.

Moreover, some people may have contraindications for using a TENS device. It includes individuals with heart problems, epilepsy, and implantable devices. This is because the electrical currents may trigger unpleasant reactions, such as dizziness, abnormal heart rate and seizures. Overall, severe pain that keeps people from doing activities should seek medical attention immediately.


A TENS unit for period cramps can be an effective way to alleviate painful periods. It is a portable machine that sends low-level elect. The device consists of electrode pads that deliver electrical currents to the body. It targets the sensory nerves to block pain signals and produce endogenous opioids like endorphins. Moreover, it has adjustable settings to suit different pain levels. Users can use the device anytime they need.

The TENS machine is easy to use. For period pain relief, stick the electrodes on the abdomen and adjust the frequency and intensity. The stimulation should be strong yet comfortable. However, avoid exceeding the recommended settings to prevent discomfort. Other precautions to consider are avoiding sensitive areas and discontinuing use if any side effects occur. Finally, seek medical help if the pain persists despite using TENS. Getting a diagnosis can help find an appropriate treatment.

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