Electrocute Your Period Pain Away! What The F*ck Are TENS Machines & Do They Actually Work?
Being a womxn can be the best thing in the world… but occasionally, you wish you could curl up into a ball and disappear. We’re talking about period pains, of course – one of the most shitty things about being female. For some babes, monthly period pains can be completely debilitating; think severe stomach cramps, bloating, pain, headaches, joint pain, and diarrhea. The symptoms can be so bad that you can’t function, needing to call in sick from work, miss awesome social events, or skip out on classes for a day or two.
If you’ve never had period symptoms – damn, we’re jealous! If you have, you know how severe they can be, and sometimes heating pads and Tylenol just don’t cut it. If you’re really struggling each month, you might be curious about new ways to deal with the pain so you can bounce back to normal.
Some womxn are trying out an alternative form of pain relief called a TENS machine to ease discomfort. So what the heck is a TENS machine, and how do I know if it can help me? Here’s the inside scoop.
So… what are TENS machines, exactly?
A TENS machine is a battery-powered device that’s used to treat pain. TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation; essentially, this means using electricity to combat pain. Using small electrodes that stick to the skin, a TENS machine delivers electrical impulses to your body. The electricity distracts your nervous system, reducing its ability to transmit feelings of pain. At the same time, it also helps to stimulate endorphins, which are used by your body as a natural pain reliever.
The user has control over the frequency, intensity, and duration of the electrical impulses. Although it all sounds a bit weird, TENS machines aren’t uncomfortable to use – at most, you should feel a slight tingling sensation. The machines are small, so you could wear it to school or on the bus without anyone noticing. But this brings us to the big question: do TENS machines actually work?
Well, many gals find them super useful – however, limited research has been done on their effectiveness. A research study demonstrated that TENS were effective against fibromyalgia pain, which is promising, but not much research has been done on TENS and period pain specifically. For some, they’re a useful alternative to painkillers and meds, but for others, they might not do much. Before science can answer this question with certainty, a lot more widespread studies and research need to be done.
If you’re keen to try a TENS machine out, always talk to your doctor first to learn whether or not it’s the right choice for you. Should you decide to go ahead, machines can be purchased either online or at your local pharmacy.
Image by Sydney Sims on Unsplash: For some womxn, TENS machines can provide relief from monthly discomfort.
What is a TENS machine good for?
TENS machines have definitely become popular to treat period pain, which can be brutal, causing us to spend all day in bed in the fetal position. When it comes to TENS machines and period pain, you can place the electrodes on your lower abdomen, back, or wherever you’re feeling the pain, providing specific, targeted pain relief. This works well for many long-suffering babes who just want to get on with life and ditch the discomfort.
TENS machines are also used for other types of pain, including head, neck, and joint pain; arthritis; sports injuries; and fibromyalgia. Some users say they get up to 24 hours of pain relief from a TENS session, while others say the pain resumes once they stop using it. Sounds like the effectiveness can vary, making it hard to know how you’ll react until you try it out for yourself.
Can a TENS unit be harmful?
Thinking “Sounds awesome, sign me up”? Hold up – as with any medical treatment, you need to know what you’re getting into first.
While TENS are widely considered to be safe, there are a few side effects. For some, the adhesive pads can cause rashes and irritations. Other gals might find the electrical impulses themselves to be unpleasant, creating a buzzing or tingling sensation that they don’t like.
A TENS machine should also never be used around the eyes or front of the neck, as this can cause injury. As with any medical device or medication, always follow the instructions exactly and cease use if anything feels weird or painful.
How do I know if it’s right for me?
If you want to try out a TENS machine, your first step should always be talking to your doctor. Let them know what you’ve been dealing with and bring up the TENS machine, asking if it would be right for you.
Unfortunately, they aren’t for everyone. If you have certain underlying conditions, including epilepsy, heart problems, use of a pacemaker, or any other electrical or metal implants, they’re best avoided. They also aren’t cool for pregnant people.
If you’re someone with really serious cramps and period pains, they might not be right for you either. In these cases, it’s probably better to talk to your doctor about pain relief methods that are more tried and tested, such as birth control or other prescription meds.
Image by Omar Lopez on Unsplash: There are lots of ways to manage period pain, even if TENS isn’t right for you – you’ll be back with the gang in no time!
In short: talk to your doctor and see if TENS would be safe for you to use. Once they give you the green light, you can purchase your own machine and try it out. However, don’t expect it to be a miraculous cure – while some womxn find relief from the machines, others don’t.
If it works for you, awesome! It can be a helpful tool that you can use monthly for sweet relief. However, if you don’t get much from it, we say talk to your doc again, as they can recommend other treatment options.
Whether you use TENS or not, the good news is that modern medicine is damn awesome. We have access to a number of ways to reduce period pain, so you don’t need to suffer through the discomfort each month. Heck yeah to that!