We're willing to try pretty much anything to get rid of period pain (OK, maybe not anything). But when we heard about Livia, a pain management device that's touted as "the off-switch for your menstrual cramps," we thought it must be too good to be true.
Livia, which uses electric signals to block pain messages to your brain (you attach two pads to your lower abs), has gotten lots of attention lately and has far surpassed its Indiegogo goal. But doctors aren't so sure alleviating cramps is as simple as pushing a button.
Livia is similar to TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), a strategy used for migraines and arthritis that blocks receptors sending pain signals to your brain, but the research behind it is inconsistent, says Sherry Ross, M.D., an OB/GYN at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, CA. Livia itself isn't approved by the FDA, and it's been tested only in a study of 163 women.
"Until more long-term and reliable clinical studies can be done, a Motrin 800 is just as effective and less costly," she says. A representative from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also told Mashable that, as far as they can tell, there's no actual evidence to support the device.
That's not to say it won't improve cramps for certain women. "If, as some people think, TENS works to release endorphins, then it could possibly be of some use—most likely in combination with other therapies like heat," says Robert Berg, M.D., an OB/GYN at NYU Langone Medical Center. Not to mention that if you think the product works, your cramps may fade away. "The placebo effect is a wonderful thing," Berg says.
Although Livia doesn't seem to be dangerous (except for people with a pacemaker or heart rhythm problem), you may want to talk with your doctor or wait for more research before strapping on this "magic" device.