I’ve suffered through excruciating menstrual cramps every month since my very first period at age 9. Like, debilitating. So bad I’d throw up at times. I took birth control to manage the pain for about five years, but when I went off the Pill (for a variety of reasons), the cramps were back in full force. Normally, I take an extra strength Advil every six hours or so to manage the pain on days one, two, and three of my period.
In desperation, last June, I contributed to Livia’s Indiegogo campaign.
Livia is a pricey little gadget that promises relief from menstrual cramps. From what I understand, it’s essentially a TENS machine, which works by sticking electrodes to the skin that block pain signals to the brain. (Science isn’t my strong suit, but I’m trying, k?)
The little machine is wrapped in a removable silicone sleeve in the colour of your choice – I chose the lavender, clearly. There are two flower petal-shaped electrodes, and they come with sticky gel backings that attach to the skin of the uterus-area of the abdomen. The sticky gel parts need to be replaced about monthly, so they’ll need to be purchased from the Livia website occasionally.
The machine has a number of settings, and whether you can actually feel it varies based on what setting it is on. On the lowest setting, I can’t feel anything; on the higher settings, it causes a light, not-unpleasant tingling sensation. The company recommends not turning it up above a tickle.
In short, Livia works. I took one Advil during my last period, two during this period because I didn’t want to bring the machine with me to a hockey game. That’s the only inconvenience – sometimes clipping Livia to my clothes isn’t always doable, depending on the clothing and the activity in question. It’s probably not great for working out, or for wearing dresses or skirts or pants with no pockets.
Honestly, though, it’s a lifesaver and I love it. Being able to completely eliminate my cramps without flooding my body with Advil each month has been incredible. The price is high, but it’s essentially a one-time investment that frees me from a rigid Advil schedule. To me, that’s worth it.