Instead of popping Midol and fighting my menstrual cramps, this month I tried to get relief by sending electric shocks to my nerves.
Specifically, I used PowerDot, a wellness technology device developed by Therabody. Therabody’s rise to wellness-tech stardom began with its first official product, the Theragun, a massage gun that went viral on social media and consistently ranks on media lists for the best. massage guns.
As the wellness industry explodes into a $1.5 trillion market, wellness tech is using apps, AI, and electronics to help people feel their best.
The $200 PowerDot device sends low-voltage electrical shocks to your nerves that can block pain receptors from reaching your brain. Although athletes have used this technology to help with muscle recovery, companies are experimenting with consumer gadgets to help ease menstrual pain.
I am the ideal consumer of solutions for menstrual pain. My period pains are moderate to severe for the first two days, and the cramps come in the form of aching pains that last 15-30 minutes. Without taking over-the-counter painkillers, my monthly cramps can interfere with work and socializing.
Although the research is inconclusive as to whether low voltage shocks can relieve pain, I experienced instant relief using the PowerDot that went beyond what over-the-counter medications could do. However, the short-term pain relief was not enough to justify the high cost of the device.
How Electric Shock Therapy Can Relieve Menstrual Pain
PowerDot uses transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy, or TENS. The therapy sends low-voltage electrical currents to the nerves where you feel pain.
The device may work either by blocking the transmission of pain signals to your brain or by stimulating the release of endorphin hormones that reduce pain, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
The Cleveland Clinic does not recommend TENS for people who are pregnant, have cancer, epilepsy, have electrical implants, or
. The device appears to be safe for everyone, as the National Institutes of Health could not identify any side effects or complications when used as directed.
According to the NIH, there is “no universal consensus” on the effectiveness of TENS in reducing pain. Some research has indicated that TENS can provide short-term pain relief, but cannot cure pain conditions or syndromes, according to the NIH.
How I Used Electric Shock Therapy to Relieve My Period Pain
My biggest issue with taking anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen is how long it takes to kick in. Usually my menstrual cramps manifest as pain, and the most severe pain can last 10-15 minutes and interfere with my ability to move.
By the time the anti-inflammatory medication kicks in, I have already experienced moderate to severe pain. Also, I have to take painkillers every four hours in a row if I want consistent relief.
PowerDot offered an immediate, albeit more complicated, solution to pain.
Although the PowerDot device itself sells for $200, most users will need to buy the $424 set that comes with electrodes that connect to the shocks – a far bigger investment than a $10 bottle of Midol. (Therabody provided a free PowerDot to use for this story for Insider to return upon publication.)
The device also comes with a list of precautions. PowerDot’s manual stated not to use the device while standing, carrying metal, sleeping, operating machinery, at altitudes above 1.8 miles, and in a host of other situations.
After reading the manual, I downloaded the PowerDot app, created an account, and selected the period pain relief program. Users can choose whether to place the device on their abdomen or lower back, and how long the shocks are delivered.
I went for the abdomen set up. Neither the app nor the manual had a guide for the exact placement of the period relief pads, so I placed a large section just below my navel with two small pads on either side.
The app asked me to rate my pain, which I rated as 5/10, or “distracting.” The device then started my 30 minute session. I had the ability to slowly increase the voltage of the device until I started to feel a benefit.
The electric shock immediately relieved me of my menstrual pain, but could not provide a long-term solution
The first time I felt the shocks, it was more of a massage than an electrocution. I felt some relief but kept increasing until the shocks became more noticeable and slightly uncomfortable.
It took me less than five minutes to start feeling my period pains become less intense. I got used to the shocks themselves and started feeling my period pains go away instantly.
I got a little bored lying with the unit on for 30 minutes straight and sometimes had to lower the shocks to give myself a break.
At the end of the massage, I felt no period pain for about 30 minutes. I was ecstatic at first as the anti-inflammatory drugs could only ease my severe menstrual cramps while I felt no pain immediately after using PowerDot. But the painless sensation was short-lived, fading about half an hour later.
I tried the device again when I felt the next pain coming on, and had the same success as the first time: within five minutes of using the device, I felt my pain decrease and begin to completely disappear. I tried shock therapy for 45 minutes this time to see if it would give me more cramp-free time, but was disappointed when the pains returned 30 minutes after the session ended.
Although I felt immediate relief from PowerDot, it was impractical to continually reach for the device, apply the pads, and lie down for at least 30 minutes to get relief. I felt less pain immediately after using the PowerDot compared to taking anti-inflammatory medications, but the cramps came back too soon for me to use the device long term.