If, like me, you suffer with hideous period cramps every month (thanks for that, non-hormonal IUD), any products that claim to help are always added to basket ASAP. So, when I heard about the Livia portable, pain-blocking device – that promises to zap the cramps away in seconds by stimulating the nerves – I was eager to try it out. In the interest of full transparency, I was sent the product to try by the Livia PR team.
The way it works is incredibly straightforward: unpeel the gel patches that are attached to a wire that feeds into the main machine, which is a tiny handheld square device (available in a few different colours). Stick said gel patches onto your lower abdomen and hit the 'on' button, which releases what feels like a tiny electrical shock – it made me jump first time around, but isn't painful.
The Livia team say this 'shock' is actually a pulse designed to keep the nerves ‘busy’, thus blocking those pesky pain signals en route to your brain. As a user, it was reassuring to have complete control over how intense the pulses were.
Most importantly, my cramps stopped pretty much instantaneously. Now, this is no mean feat, given they're often so bad I use both BeYou natural cramp relieving patches and a hefty dose of Feminax to relieve them, and still wriggle in my chair, feeling like I'm being shanked in the womb.The device retails at £95, so admittedly it's not cheap. And while it's also received good reviews from those who suffer from PCOS and endometriosis too – like any product, there's no guarantee it will work for absolutely everybody. For me though, it's been a huge help in softening cramps when they're at their most intense. Which is, like, all the time.
For complete balance, critics of the Livia device say it's not an entirely new concept either – but that it's instead a repackaged TENS unit (a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation device) with an additional cost. One OB/GYN and pain medicine physician, Dr Jennifer Gunter, wrote about the device, "This is not new technology and it isn’t new for period pain. I have been prescribing them for well over 10 years," and added that you can purchase a "decent TENS machine on Amazon for $30".
For me personally, I'd never heard of TENS, so Livia does feel like a 'new' and exciting concept. One that has now become a monthly staple.
Try for yourself:
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