Women's Health: LIVIA 'The Off Switch For Menstrual/Period Pain' - 3 Month Trial Review

Thursday 17 May 2018

LIVIA 'The Off Switch For Menstrual Pain' - 3 Month Trial Review
Period pain is something that affects a huge percentage of menstruating women, and levels of its severity and impact on day-to-day life can vary from woman to woman - there's no singular pain factor that's the same for everyone. 

My experience with Period Pain
Some women can go through much of their adult lives and not have their periods bother them that much, but for others, they can be absolutely awful, and I've struggled a lot with severe period pain ever since I started menstruating at the age of 11. I remember having to take a lot of time off school because the pain was so bad, and after countless trips to the GP, I was simply told to take some higher-strength Ibuprofen and basically 'get over it'. For the first couple of years, this seemed to work to some degree as it dulled the worst of it, but by the time I was 16/17, my body had built up a tolerance to both high-strength Paracetamol and Ibuprofen, to the point where they no longer did anything and I still have issues with them doing nothing for me to this day.

At college, a friend recommended that I visit her female GP who was more understanding of these issues, so I requested a transfer and was accepted at her surgery. She asked me a lot of questions about the pain and prescribed Mefenamic Acid, an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) which worked wonders! It even helped with my heavy periods and I felt happier than I had done in years. My periods were no longer a problem, until two years later, when the Mefenamic Acid suddenly stopped working. The crippling period pain was back, so I made an appointment and saw the same GP, who then prescribed Naproxen, a different type of painkiller. I had a lot of side effects from it (heartburn, nausea, headaches etc) and eventually stopped taking it after five months when I started to get heart palpitations. The GP suggested trying Mefenamic Acid again which I did, but it no longer worked for me. That was the point where she shook her head and suggested I look at alternative methods, as I had exhausted all of the options that she knew of.

LIVIA 'The Off Switch For Menstrual Pain' - 3 Month Trial Review
Here's Livia in action - the gel pads are slightly higher up than usual as I was getting more pain in those areas on the day that I took this photo, but you can adjust them to wherever you need them to be and you can use them on your lower back as well.

I've done a lot of Googling and chatting to other women over the years, and have tried so many different methods to manage the severity of my period pain. These include exercising more, acupuncture, diet changes, different painkillers, taking different versions of the Pill, and even trying hypnotherapy. Some helped more than others, but none of them had a noticeable impact.

Last year, I came across a news story online about a new drug-free solution to period pain called Livia. The startup business behind it had successfully crowdfunded over $1.7 million dollars via Indiegogo, which perhaps gives you a good indicator of how many women worldwide have been looking for an alternative like this!  

What is Livia and How Does It Work?
Livia is basically a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) device which works as a pain management treatment system by using electrotherapy. The device is composed of a rechargeable unit which sends light electrical pulses into the body through the skin via two electrodes which are placed over the areas where you're experiencing the pain. This means that the high-frequency electrical signals sent out by the device effectively 'blocks out' the pain signals and stops them from being delivered to your brain, so that you no longer 'feel' the pain. Low-frequency bursts of mild electrotherapy also help to activate the natural pain control response that we all have, by releasing additional beta-endorphins - pretty clever stuff eh?

How Do I Use It? 
The first thing you'll need to do is charge the Livia unit for 12 hours before using (it's easy to charge it via a USB or phone charger). Once charged, you simply attach it to the waistband of your trousers/skirt etc, and plug in the electrodes which are attached to flower-shaped gel pads. Stick these onto the area where you're feeling pain, making sure that they're at least 10-15 cm apart in distance, and then switch Livia on. You can increase and decrease the strength as you wish by pressing the plus and minus buttons. There's no time limit for how long you can use it for, but I found it most effective for around 15-20 minutes as the effects continue for a little while afterwards. As always, I recommend reading the instructions in full before using any new device.

What Does It Feel Like?
I tried out the lowest setting first and it felt like a series of gentle, small vibrations. It's a little strange at first, but definitely not painful. As I adjusted to the higher settings, the vibrations get more intense of course, so I'd suggest working your way up to them, rather than going straight in at the deep end. That said, once you get used to the sensation of it, you quickly realise that it's not painful - it just feels weird to begin with!

LIVIA 'The Off Switch For Menstrual Pain' - 3 Month Trial Review
Did It Work For Me?
I tested out Livia for three months to see if the results or feelings would change from period to period, and I found that it was pretty consistent throughout. I get the most period pain during the first three days of my period and I found that Livia definitely helped with the severity of the cramps. However, it didn't make them go away completely and I still experienced some moderate pain during those first three days each time, though it was a lot less than I usually felt. If you have milder period pain, it may eliminate all of that, but as a severe pain sufferer, I'd say it helped to reduce the pain by about 50-60% to give you a rough idea, though I appreciate that we're all different with our pain levels.

Overall Thoughts?
Livia is by no means the miracle product that I desperately wanted it to be, but it has certainly helped me to discover a much better method of period pain management and I'm thrilled that it's something that women can try which is a drug-free option. I strongly believe that many young girls and women are taking far too many painkillers on a regular basis for period pain, which can result in a tolerance being built up that may have problematic consequences for them later in their lives (I know it has done this for me), so I fully support any methods that could help to reduce that dependency. 

I do feel that Livia is very expensive for what it is though, and you could probably find a similar TENS device for a much cheaper price (you must factor in purchasing additional gel pads etc). But for those who have the budget for it, it's a wonderfully convenient piece of kit to have in your handbag, ready to blast away those pesky cramps so that you can get on with your day.

LIVIA* is currently on offer as a complete kit for £119 (original price £149) and is available direct from mylivia.com

Would you use a product like this for period pain?

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