The idea of shocking yourself to get rid of pain might sound strange, but that’s what this little gadget is designed to do. Livia is a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machine — a discreet one designed for ladies’ tough time of the month. Digital Trends got to try one out, and it worked for this writer.
Place Livia’s reusable electrodes wherever it hurts. Turn it on and electric pulses stimulate the nerves to interrupt the reception of pain passing to the brain. It’s instant pain relief, which is something pills can’t provide.
A TENS machine of Livia’s size and simplicity hasn’t been addressed in the market yet. It just launched on Indiegogo to fill the niche. Most TENS machines are complicated contraptions with busy, unattractive interfaces. They look like medical devices that need extensive instructions. By comparison, Livia fits in the palm of your hand and is simple enough to be used by touch. Stick it on and turn it on. Plus and minus symbols indicate pulse strength. That’s it.
The small LED indicator above the Livia’s power button is supposed to indicate what level it’s set to, but the yellow casing on my model made this hard to see. With the skin removed, four slots are clearly visible, and it takes four taps to move the indicator, so it has 16 intensity settings. I couldn’t tolerate full strength anywhere but on my lower back, so don’t mistake Livia’s small size for lack of power.
Of course, the version Digital Trends tested is a prototype, but we can reasonably hope the final product is just as strong. As a prototype, it has some flaws, like the clarity of the level indicator, the smooth buttons — which makes it harder to use by touch — and the clip. If the device gets jostled or snagged on a piece of clothing, it will likely be yanked off because the clip is not very secure. It’s a good thing the attachment to the electrodes is firm, since the device is light enough to dangle by the cords instead of clattering to the ground. The reusable hydrogel electrode pad adhesive also worked well, meaning it left no icky residue on my skin.
Otherwise, Livia is incredibly cute and works like a charm, giving instant relief a pill just can’t match. The website title “mylivia.com” is in sync with the customizable nature of the device. Though part of its appeal is that it can easily work under clothes, Livia skins comes in a bunch of bright colors. My Livia has a sticker on it — there’s something about the simplistic design that screams “personalize me!”
That said, now that I push away from the desk or the couch on a regular basis, I don’t have horrible menstrual pains. Instead the pains have migrated to my knee, where I sprained three ligaments a few years ago. So I slapped it on my leg after 30 miles on my road bike. This goes beyond Livia’s intended use, yet it worked as well on my leg as it did on my lower back. My own experience speaks well for the device’s versatility. Charge it up through a ubiquitous micro USB — another plus — and it’ll run for 15 hours, long enough to for a night’s sleep.
A portable TENS aimed at the everyday woman is a long overdue idea. It is definitely a viable replacement for pills, which in my experience don’t work anyway. It may seem expensive, but it’s a one-time purchase compared to bottles of pain meds and the possible tolerance that comes with treating pain with pills. Not to mention it’s safer all around, since you’re not devouring chemicals.
Through the Livia Indiegogo campaign, you can grab a Livia for $75. It comes with the device, two electrodes, four hydrogel pads, a USB cable, and a case. After the campaign ends in two months, Livia will retail for $149.