Can Livia Help Your Menstrual Cramps?
No one wants to suffer the discomfort of menstrual cramps but most women do. In fact, studies show that 90% of women have some degree of cramping with their monthly periods. For some, it can be incapacitating enough to cause missed days from work and other activities.
The standard treatment for those unpleasant monthly pains and cramps is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, like Advil, and moist heat. In other words, the trusty heating pad. But for some women, that’s not enough. Imagine the excitement that would ensue if someone came up with a drug-free way to relieve menstrual cramps? Well, a company claims to have done that and the product is called Livia.
How Does Livia Work?
Livia is a device that delivers weak electrical pulses. These pulses are delivered to the nerves that carry pain signals that cause cramps. How does it work? Once you buy the device, you attach the electrodes to the portions of your tummy that are cramping. When you turn the device on, it delivers weak electrical pulses to the crampy area.
Livia is based on a therapy called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). TENS units are battery-operated units that deliver a weak electrical stimulus to painful areas. The idea is that sending these weak electrical signals interferes with pain signal transmission, thereby easing the discomfort. Another way it works is by stimulating the release of “feel good,” pain-reducing chemicals called endorphins. Even though the device delivers electrical signals, the signals are so weak you don’t feel them. It all sounds good – but does it work?
It’s true that Livia is based on science and several small studies show transcutaneous nerve stimulation has benefits for women suffering with menstrual cramps. Yet, most practitioners don’t believe there’s enough evidence yet to say it’s effective.
What Does Research Show?
Livia has conducted its own trials and found the device to be effective for 8 out of 10 women, although these were not peer-reviewed studies, which makes them less credible. The company has applied to the FDA for approval of this device for menstrual cramps but approval is still pending. Even if transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation proves to be effective for some women, there’s no guarantee the Livia delivers stimulation at a high enough frequency to stop cramping.
Should You Try It?
The marketing for Livia is enticing. The website calls the treatment the “off switch for menstrual pain.” What menstrual cramp sufferer wouldn’t be swayed by that? At the very least, Livia is likely to be safe, considering transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation has been used for more than a decade. The question is whether the product itself delivers on its promise. We’re each a little different and have varying pain thresholds. It’s possible that Livia works for some women but not for others.
If you’ve exhausted other options, Livia may be worth a try, but remember that lifestyle changes may also be of benefit. For example, eating a whole foods diet abundant in fruits and vegetables helps reduce inflammation. Other approaches that are effective for some women include regular exercise, acupuncture, and ensuring you have an adequate vitamin D level. If you’re unsure about your vitamin D, ask your doctor to check your level via a blood test.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(1):CD002123.
Medical Daily. “Menstrual Cramps: 6 Home Remedies”