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How do TENS machines work in period pain?
27 Apr, 2022

How do TENS machines work in period pain?

“Menses” is an integral feminine feature that all women experience. We know of many women who experience discomfort at the time of their periods. For many, this does not hamper their daily activities or require any special attention. However, for some women, their monthly period is painful and in some cases, disabling. Such women are unable to function through their daily routine activities.

Period pain is usually felt in the lower tummy as painful muscle cramps. It sometimes spreads to the back and thighs. At times, there are intense spasms, while at other times, the ache may be dull and persistent. There are a number of home remedies for painful periods, like gentle exercise, a hot water shake, a warm bath, massage, Pilates, etc. These may or may not relieve pain completely. But another harmless way of getting rid of period pain is by using a TENS machine (Transcutaneous Electronic Nerve Stimulation). This is a non-evasive and drug-free period pain relief machine. It is emerging as one of the best treatments for painful menstruation.

TENS machine mechanism

A TENS machine is a small, handy and battery-operated machine that is worn on the body. The pocket TENS machine has sticky electrode pads that are stuck on the skin in the area of pain. At a high pulse rate of 90–130 Hz, soothing electrical pulses are transmitted from the device and reach the nerves of the body through the spinal cord. These pulses suppress menstrual pain signals. They alter the way pain signals are sent to the brain and reduce them. TENS also supports the body in producing higher levels of self-immunity, i.e., endorphins and enkephalins. These ease the pain furthermore.

This period pain relief machine implements the Gate Control theory of pain. It offers a gate mechanism to the brain and the central nervous system. When the gate is open, pain messages are transferred to the brain and we feel pain. When the gate is closed, these pain messages stop and we do not feel any pain. TENS machines arouse certain non-pain-carrying nerves and close the gate. This makes the brain busy dealing with the signals it receives from the TENS machine rather than the intense pain signals that the body receives from menstruation.


Effects of the TENS machine

Scientific research trials have definitely shown a green signal to TENS machine. It has surely proved to be a popular form of pain relief with a great customer base. It is still gaining its popularity and momentum with the ladies. Its effects can differ from individual to individual.


Application of the TENS machine

It is advisable to use a TENS machine only on the advice of a doctor. Pocket TENS machines are not suitable for all types of pain conditions. You may need to try other painkillers and treatments even while using a TENS machine.

A TENS machine can be personally handled by the user. You can adjust its settings easily without any guidance from a medical professional. Typically, you can use the device for about 15-20 minutes per session, several times a day.

TENS machines are normally used by people with musculoskeletal pain, like chronic back pain or knee joint arthritis. They are also sometimes used for pain relief in the early stages of labour pains. People suffering from migraine headaches, sports injuries, fatigue, insomnia and dementia also sometimes use this device.


Advantages of the TENS machine

Although it has yet to be proved by R & D, there is a larger audience that approves of the TENS machine benefits. The TENS machine will surely reduce, if not eliminate, the amount of pain killing medicines you take. Plus, there are no side-effects to this device. So while on menstruation, you can freely live up to your day’s routine with the TENS machine on. You might need to try a few settings on your TENS machine before finding the most suitable one for you. A TENS machine would be a great trial, particularly if you have tried all the conventional pain relief methods and medications and are unsuccessful.


Instructions for the TENS machine

Following the manual is mandatory for the correct usage of the TENS machine. Below are a few general notifications for usage.

  • TENS machine allows you to move around with them working. You can tuck the machine into a pocket or clip it onto your belt.
  • Switch off the machine before placing the electrode pads on your skin.
  • Hold the pads between your fingers and then carefully turn them on to test the device. You should experience a tingling sensation.
  • Ensure that the skin where the pads are stuck is clean and dry and there are no injuries or irritation on it.
  • Arrange the pads on either side of the pain. Self-adhesive pads or flexible rubber pads are ideal for use. Apply them with a thin layer of conductive gel. Keep at least a gap of an inch between the two pads.
  • If your physical activities are more, then fix the pads to the skin with tape.
  • About 100 Hz of pulse rate is good to start with.
  • Once you switch on the machine, you will gradually feel strong sensations, but they won’t be uncomfortable. After a few minutes, the intensity of the sensations drops slightly. This is called “accommodation time.” See to it that you do not get muscle contraction.
  • Turn off the machine and disconnect the electrodes from the machine at the end of a session. If you intend to use TENS again soon, then keep the pads on your skin.
  • After using the device, carefully remove the pads from the skin. You can clean the skin with soap and water. If there are any rashes or irritations from the pads, then use a different area of skin the next time you use the machine.


When to avoid TENS machine

The period pain relief machine is used to reduce pain in muscles, joints and nerves. There are virtually no side effects to a TENS machine. However, people with the following conditions should avoid using this device:

  • When the cause of the pain is not diagnosed.
  • Pregnant women (unless medically advised).
  • People with pacemakers.
  • Those suffering from epilepsy or certain types of heart disease.


Though science has not derived hardcore conclusions about a TENS machine, it is surely getting more popular among young girls who suffer badly during their periods. And for them, this device has proved to be a blessing.

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