Livia claims that it gets rid of period cramps, but does it actually work?

There are many “remedies” for period pain that have varying success rates.

Women who experience period pain have a few options: They can lie around and let the world stop until they feel better (not a realistic option for most), they can pop over-the-counter pain relievers until the pain subsides (and risk the potential side effects of taking too many of those medications), or they can look online through lists of natural remedies that may or may not work.

Now there’s a fourth option in the form of a tech gadget called Livia, which promises relief from pain. I decided to give Livia a try to see if it really works.

livia contents
Erika Rawes/Digital Trends

What is Livia?

Livia is a wearable device you affix to your stomach. In a nutshell, it’s supposed to block pain signals between your lady parts and your brain. Livia is a TENS device manufactured by iPulse Medical. TENS, which stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, works by sending continuous, mild electrical pulses through electrodes and into your skin along your nerve pathways. These electrical pulses are supposed to help block out the pain signals that travel through your nerves.

While Livia is a TENS unit similar to the ones you can purchase online (like this one), the makers of Livia claim their product is better because it has just the right type of electrical pulses  (in terms of frequency and length) to block out the specific type of pain associated with menstruation.

At a glance, Livia kind of looks like an old-school MP3 player. It’s a small, 55 by 55 mm square device encased inside of a removable case. On the device, there’s a power button, a plus button, a minus button, and a clip. You use the plus and minus buttons to adjust the intensity. There’s also one port to plug in the electrodes and another to plug in the micro USB charging cable. You can hide Livia under you clothes and wear it discreetly out in public.

livia unit
Erika Rawes/Digital Trends

Applying and wearing it

Overall, Livia is easy to apply. The electrode flower pads come pre-applied with gel. So, all you have to do is charge the device, plug the electrodes into the port, remove the protective plastic, and place the two electrodes on your abdomen. It takes a few moments of trial and error to find the ideal placement for the electrodes, but it’s not a difficult process.

Livia is very small, so no one can tell when you’re wearing it. Just clip the device onto your clothing, and you can inconspicuously rock it while you go about your daily activities. You could comfortably wear it to work, while running errands, or while exercising without any issue. Don’t try to go swimming with it, though, because it’s not waterproof. You can wear the device for up to 10 hours at a time. You can wear it while resting or taking an afternoon nap, but it may not be a good idea to wear through the night.

The science behind Livia

The makers of Livia claim it relieves menstrual pain and discomfort, increases feelings of well being and is an overall safe treatment. But does the research on TENS devices back these claims?

According to a report published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Both HF (high frequency) and LF (low frequency) TENS (have) been shown to provide analgesia specifically when applied at a strong, non-painful intensity.” However, over time, a person can form a tolerance to the same TENS frequency, intensity, and pulse duration. The report also says that TENS can increase the concentration of endorphins in the bloodstream, which gives some credibility to Livia’s well-being claims.

Does it relieve period pain?

I tried Livia for menstrual pain. I did not use any menstrual relief medications during the treatment, including NSAIDs like ibuprofen or Naproxen, in conjunction with the Livia device, nor did I use any other period medications like Midol.

livia

As I mentioned before, I had to adjust the placement of the electrodes a few times to get them in the ideal position, and I also had to adjust the pulse setting. The optimal placement and settings will likely be different for each individual. The unit has 16 intensity settings. I set the device on the level-7 setting, and within five minutes, it began to provide relief. It made the pain much more manageable without the use of any medication. I’d say that overall, my cramps were reduced by 75 percent, which is pretty significant.

I did notice an itching sensation on the skin after wearing the device for several hours. But, that sensation went away 20 to 30 minutes after removing the electrodes. The battery lasted for approximately 14.5 hours before I had to charge the device, but it reached a full charge again fairly quickly (in roughly 70 minutes).

Should you buy it?

Because everyone is different, Livia may help some people more than others. It helped me, and others have reported that Livia makes pain associated with conditions like endometriosis more bearable. But be warned that some other users say the device doesn’t work for them.

If you decide to buy Livia, it’ll cost you $158 on Amazon, which is admittedly a little pricey. One plus is that if Livia doesn’t help with your period pain, the company does offer a 120-day money-back guarantee, according to the Livia website. The return policy says they won’t cover the shipping, tax, or any gift wrap fees on returns, though. Livia also offers a 2-year warranty, which covers the unit itself but not the electrodes and other accessories.

Should you buy it? Yes. If you or a loved one deals with menstrual pain and you’re looking for a product that works pretty well, go for it. If it does work, just think of all the money you’ll save on Advil. If it doesn’t work, then you can return for a money-back guarantee.

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