Since I was twelve years old, I almost every month problems. Pain in the abdomen, lower back, cravings, digestive problems, convulsions – in short: menstrual complaints. A fate that I share with many women. The proportion of Menstruating, who have already experienced the discomfort that is according to research, about 80 percent. Around 10-20 per cent are so severely affected that everyday activities are restricted or impossible.
A device for the control of pain should be switched off by the push of a button, which to me sounds like a promise: I’ve tried 5×5 centimeters in size, designed in the year 2015.
Electrical impulses to block pain signals
The System that lies behind it, is the so-called TRANS-cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, in short Tens. In the Interior of the device, electrical pulses are generated and the attached electrodes on the pain area in the body directed. The electricity excites the nerves that send signals to the spinal cord and the transmission of pain signals to block. Thus, the pain impulse is not more or less intensity in the brain to come.
Tens devices have been used for decades in the treatment of pain, and sometimes reimbursed by health insurance. The study location for this, however, is not uniform. Some studies have found no benefit of Tens compared to Placebo, whereas others already. A meta-analysis on Tens use for chronic low back pain showed recently that the complaints with Tens can demonstrably reduce.
For use with menstrual pain, the gynecologist, Doris Scharrel, 2 says. Chairman of the professional Association of women doctors: “they have proven themselves as a remedy for menstrual cramps good and are around 20 euros. In many devices from medical device manufacturers, different types of modes and frequencies are programmed in.”
In my small device, I’m paying, apparently, the colorful and hip Design, I spent for the starter kit is $ 125. Included the device, a Pair of electrodes and Gel Pads are.
Cycle 1: jet lag and other symptoms just before a holiday trip to hit the device with me. The first period begins in Bogotá, Colombia. As the bleeding and the cramps start, I attach the device to the side of my panties, sticky with gel pads provided with the electrodes on the lower abdomen and press the button. The intensity of the pulses can be adapted – I’ll try and leave it at level 2.
First of all it is to me as bad as always. Whether jet lag and altitude play a role? Most of all, I had to feel hidden in my euphoria about the new device something Essential: the series of menstrual disorders, the I, apart from cramps. I’m tired, I have problems with digestion. I put on a pot of tea, fill the Rest in with a hot water bottle and allow myself a pain pill.
Three hours later, but then a realization: I have no need for Ibuprofen-replenishment, which is in strong days, otherwise up to three times as necessary. The pain is noticeable but bearable.
The assessment of the woman doctor: Scharrel commented: “Tens devices block the transmission of pain signal to the brain, which is not to say that the pain disappeared. A cause for the pain, the distribution of the so-called prostaglandins, which are involved in inflammation, Schwellungs and pain processes in the body. Because the Tens unit does nothing, it only prevents, to a certain extent, the communication with the pain centers in the brain.”
My insight: I have to try out where I put the electrodes on the best and in which frequency I have to unlock them. The cramps in the lower abdomen and lower back can I weaken, diarrhea, circulatory disorders and fatigue remain.
Cycle 2: Low battery, weak circulation
The second test cycle begins on a hot summer Sunday. Heat I the contract during the period rather badly. If my new companion changes? At least the unit fits easily under my dress. Also, the Gel Pads on the skin does not bother me despite the heat. Optimistic I walk towards the Park and not get far. The cramps are weak, my cycle also.
The next day I have to go to the office. Start at your Desk pain free. However, after nearly two hours, the battery is empty, I have not adhered to the long charging time of the device. Fortunately, the pain lasts for freedom during the day to a large extent. A Coincidence? According to one often very painful the first day of the menstrual Cycle, the second day is sometimes associated with severe symptoms. Or does the effect take “a long time”, after the device has been turned off, as the manufacturer mentioned in the manual?
The assessment of the woman doctor: Doris Scharrel is skeptical. “No, I don’t think so. The pain impulses are coming regularly in the Tens devices are programmed to matching frequencies. So you should stimulate while the cramps permanently, to block the pain impulses. More likely is that the bleeding has gone back on the second day, in the flow and the cramping. The first 48 hours are usually the most difficult period.”
Cycle 3-6: Routine and additional costs
A few cycles later, the Tens device has become Routine. For safety, I charge it over night, if the period of the seam. During the day I wear it until the battery pack after eight to twelve hours is empty. The longer I use it during the period, the less cramps I have.
The stimulation level I for each cycle a little higher. Has accustomed my body to the Stimulation, that more and stronger stimuli are needed? Or have worn the gel pads already? After about four days of use I throw them away and replace them with a new pack, even if the user manual of approximately 15 uses the speech is. A pack of six Pads costs 25 Euro – additional costs that the pain reduction is worth it.
The assessment of the woman doctor: “How often are the Pads to switch to, you can best assess themselves,” says Scharrel. “Of course we can and should try to strengthen different Frequency. It is preferable, however, to determine with the help of medical professionals, which frequencies are the best, because this depends on individual factors, such as the Position and inclination of the uterus. Here, a doctor or specialist personnel can help with manufacturers of medical Tens devices work together.”
After several cycles with the small apparatus I wonder one thing: Why did Tens my doctor told me never devices as a remedy for menstrual cramps recommended? Of course, I can’t turn off my pain still, I will keep to the Start of my period, hardly laughing on the beach, cycle along and my belly in the sun, like the Model in the commercial for the tested device. But I consume less painkillers, work more concentrated and a whole lot feel better.
My self-experiment, however, raises another issue: Tens devices relieve merely a Symptom, namely, cramps. To work on the root of the problem, it need other strategies, says Scharrel. What is the hormone balance? Are Mineral or nutrient deficiency? “If one of these points is something you can achieve with Diet, food supplements and medicinal plants in sustainable improvement,” says the gynecologist.
Summarized: Tens devices generate mild electrical impulses, the transmission of pain in the spinal cord block should. The study location is uneven. In the self-attempt of our author tests six months with the device. Their conclusion: The pain decreases, you need less pain medication and are more focused at work.