Dysmenorrhea and endometriosis are two common health issues that many women face. These conditions often cause severe pelvic pain, disrupting everyday life. Pain relief for these conditions traditionally involves medication whether it be oral contraceptive pills or other hormonal suppressive medications or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, which can sometimes lead to unwanted side effects. In many cases, those with endometriosis need additional support as these are not always effective. While excision surgery should be discussed, even those who have had successful surgeries continue to have persistent pain. Conditions such as dysmenorrhea, adenomyosis, and endometriosis can all contribute to persistent pain. Our blog titled Endometriosis and Adenomyosis: Decoding Their Contribution To Pelvic Pain helps explain these connections.
Modalities do exist that can be helpful for some, with a low side-effect profile. One particular modality of interest has been various Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) devices, and there have been improvements in these devices especially for those with dysmenorrhea also known as painful periods. One device that we are fond of is the Apollo from My Obi.
What is TENS Therapy?
TENS therapy is a pain management technique that uses low-voltage electrical currents to alleviate pain. It’s a non-invasive treatment that doesn’t involve medication, making it an attractive option for those who experience side effects from traditional pain relief methods.
How Does TENS Therapy Work?
TENS therapy functions by sending electrical currents through the skin to stimulate the nerves. These currents trigger the production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and block the pain signals from reaching the brain. The intensity and duration of the current can be adjusted to suit individual needs and pain tolerance.
Operation of TENS Devices
TENS devices, such as the Apollo belt and the OVA device, are designed to be user-friendly. They are lightweight and can be clipped onto clothing, allowing users to continue with their daily activities while receiving treatment. The devices come with preset programmes, which the user can select and adjust according to their comfort level.
Benefits of TENS Therapy
TENS therapy offers numerous benefits, especially for women suffering from dysmenorrhea and endometriosis. They are often readily available and affordable, some devices offer a heating option as well!
Non-pharmacological Treatment Option
One of the main advantages of TENS therapy is that it’s a non-pharmacological treatment. It doesn’t involve medication, reducing the risk of side effects or interactions with other drugs.
Increased Blood Flow
TENS therapy can also increase blood flow to the abdomen. This improved circulation helps to reduce inflammation and swelling, further relieving pelvic pain.
TENS therapy is controlled by the user. This means the intensity and duration of treatment can be adjusted to suit individual needs and pain levels.
Effectiveness of TENS Therapy for Period Pain and Endometriosis
Several studies support the use of TENS therapy for period pain and endometriosis. A review of these studies found TENS therapy to be effective in reducing pain in women with primary and secondary dysmenorrhea. In terms of endometriosis, TENS therapy may offer a viable treatment option, although more research is needed in this area.
Side Effects and Contraindications
TENS therapy is generally safe with few side effects. However, it may not be suitable for everyone. For instance, people with heart conditions or those with a pacemaker should avoid TENS therapy. It’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment.
TENS therapy provides a non-invasive, user-controlled, and effective pain relief solution for dysmenorrhea and endometriosis. It increases blood flow and stimulates the production of endorphins. Moreover, it’s a non-pharmacological treatment, making it an attractive option for those who experience side effects from traditional pain relief methods. However, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment.
The potential of TENS therapy is promising, and further research could unlock more benefits for women suffering from pelvic pain. By exploring alternative treatments like TENS therapy, we can continue to improve the quality of life for those affected by conditions like dysmenorrhea and endometriosis. If you suffer from pelvic pain or dysmenorrhea you may want to seek help from a specialist, not sure? Read about the signs and symptoms that warrant help here!
Schiotz, H. A., Jettestad, M., & Al-Heeti, D. (2007). Treatment of dysmenorrhoea with a new TENS device (OVA). J Obstet Gynaecol, 27(7), 726-728.