I wore a device that claims to get rid of period pain—and this is what happened
Livia offers a drug-free alternative
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Let's face it. Menstrual pain sucks. For some people, the pain is dull and hardly noticeable. For others, especially those who suffer from endometriosis, the pain is so severe they're unable to get out of bed. Painkillers like Midol or Pamprin help reduce the pain, but the side effects can be unpleasant. That's where Livia comes in.
Livia is a wearable gadget designed to provide significant relief from menstrual pain. It works by sending electric pulses to your lower abdominal area. These electric pulses stimulate the nerves and trick your body into not feeling period pain. It's about the size of an MP3 player (throwback!) and comes in a variety of colors.
Naturally, I was skeptical. Does Livia really "turn off" menstrual pain? It almost sounds too good to be true. My menstrual pain is far more manageable now thanks to birth control, but high school was a different story. Is this little device good enough to replace my hot water bottle? Here's what I found out:
The package consisted of one Livia device, two electrodes, one device cable, one charging cable, and four gel stickers. The instructional packet was simple and easy to follow. First, I stuck the flower shaped electrodes to my lower abdomen. Next, I connected the cable to the teal colored device. Then, Livia in hand, I hesitated. Was I really going to zap myself?
I tried out the lowest intensity. Not bad. Nothing too, dare I say, shocking (ha). I felt small vibrations, but it didn't really hurt. That said, the highest intensity made me jump out of my skin. The initial zap was surprising, but far from painful. However, once I got accustomed to it, it wasn't bad. Rarely do I get cramps on the first day of my period, though. For me, the misery really begins on the second or third day.
Ah. There she is. Aunt Flow has entered the building, folks. Sigh.
I woke up feeling sluggish and unwell. When I rolled over to check my phone, which was sitting on the nightstand, I was hit by a massive wave of crippling pain. Thankfully, I was already wearing the Livia device, so I turned it on and upped the intensity. The relief was almost immediate. I had moderate cramps throughout the day, but Livia zapped them away.
By the third day, I felt like a balloon that was about to pop. Yay, bloating! My cramps were inconsistent throughout the day, so I only used Livia when I really needed it. The period pain usually spiked whenever I stood up after sitting for a long time. When I got a cramp, I switched on the gadget and bumped up the intensity. Like magic, my cramps subsided. I never had to crack open a bottle of painkillers.
Admittedly, I was nervous about using Livia in public. My colleagues knew I was testing the device, but I was afraid they'd see me reaching inside my sweatshirt. Awkward, right? But thanks to the discreet design, I was able to control Livia without them noticing. Clipped to my belt loop, the gadget was within reach at all times. When I got used to Livia, I could even control it without looking at the buttons.
I was having period pain in my lower back on the fourth day. Since Livia is designed to help with back pain too, I decided to give it a whirl. But when I stuck the electrodes to my back and increased the intensity, I could barely feel it. For some reason, the device worked better for my lower abdominal pain. I couldn't exactly pinpoint why.
At this point, the electrodes were starting to pinch my skin. I had been wearing the machine day in and day out. Hell, I even slept with the device for two nights. According to the Livia website, you can wear the device "whenever you want." Unless you have a pacemaker or some kind of heart condition, you're free to wear it as long or as little as you like. But, at the end of the day, I was more than ready to remove Livia. It was getting uncomfortable.
I'm not a medical professional, so I can only share my personal experience. Livia worked for me, but I don't know if it will work for you. When it comes to periods, there are a lot of variables to consider. Some people suffer from debilitating cramps, while others feel nothing at all. Whether it's genetics or a disorder like endometriosis, no two bodies are the same.
Me? My period generally lasts for about three to four days. I feel pain, for sure, but it doesn't prevent me from living a normal life. I will say that Livia is uncomfortable to wear for more than a day or two. After a while, the electrodes began pinching my skin. Personally, I'd use it in short intervals, especially when I'm home and in my pajamas.
Livia currently retails for $149. It comes in blue-green, lavender, purple, and pink. If you suffer from severe cramps, I definitely think it's a worthwhile investment. But, if you have moderate cramps like me, I suggest snuggling up with a heating pad or hot water bottle. Again, it's up to the individual. My advice is to do what's best for you.