Menstruation and Electricity.

**Sober Disclaimers:

  1. IANAD.
  2. I am not asking for medical advice on the Internet.
  3. I have not suggested the following to my child.
  4. I will NOT suggest it to my child without first consulting a physician.**

Okay them. Daughter is 14, almost 15. Got her first wicked bout of cramps today.

I have a broken back and use a tens unit similar to this one. ( the one shown is sold in the U.K., but I got mine in the US, and I know they are sold all over the place. )

It works by passing milivolts through the muscles beween the two contact pads. The voltage increases blood flow to the area, relaxing the spasming muscles and relieving muscle pain.

Now. I know this is going to sound really weird, but it’s an intellectual question, so nobody go nuts thinking I’m going to injure my child ( upon whom my sun rises and sets ).

Has anyone here ever used a tens unit to get rid of cramps? Does it work? Does it not give relief? Is it dangerous, or benign ? ( I suspect it may be dangerous- so this whole idea is a long shot and as I said, I would only do this after discussing it with my child’s dr. ).

On the face of things, it sounds like it would give great relief. God knows it helps the pain in the musculature of my lower spine and disks. But, pain is different in different areas. On the other side of the spine are lots of different and interesting internal organs and on a very slender woman it could be argued that the voltage when applied through the spinal area is mere inches from the ovaries/uterus.

This is my concern, of course- that using a tens unit could do injury instead of good. Do I need to mention a third time that this is a question for the masses, and in no way a solicitation of approval of this idea, or medical advice? No. Of course not. Twice should be enough.

If anyone’s ever tried this, please chime in?


As a female who used to suffer from horrible cramps and who has used a tens unit for different reasons, I’m not sure it would work because the cramping is internal - I don’t think the stimulation could reach to where the cramps are actually occuring.

But you definitely get an “Attaboy” from me for two reasons: thinking outside the box, and for taking your daughters pain seriously. As a 45-year-old female I have had many men, some of them MD’s, tell me “it’s all in your head”. No, asshole, it’s in my uterus.

I don’t have much to add except that is one of the scariest titles I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty sure my ovaries clenched when I read it.

Thanks. :slight_smile: I brought her a Hershey’s Bar when I went out before. this question here.

All things in good time.

I’m sorry about that, hawksgirl. Here. Have some chocolate?

<-----------arches an eyebrow in the general direction of SCL…


External heat helps - either a hot pad (a newer one that shuts off after 20 min automatically) or a tube sock filled with about 2 cups of rice and knotted shut (nuke for 20-80 seconds and apply externally to an acceptable comfort level).

I’ve also found great relief in drinking large quantities of hot drink - for me it was apple cinnamon tea. Just sip it all day. (Also used for nausea when I was older and pregnant or ill.)

I’d probably try a tens unit some day if I had access to one. But my cramps haven’t been as bad as they were in years (I’d miss school for days at a time, sleeping as if I had mono or something).

Heating pad, teen version Midol. That is a proven way to alleviate them. If she keeps getting horrible cramping with her period, take her in to the doctor, and keep pursuing it until you find someone who will investigate its cause and find a way to treat it. One thing that helped me was not to use tampons at the start of my period. My school nurse clued me in to this, for some reason it can make some people cramp worse.

Personal anecdote TMI: I had horrible cramping for the first three years, combined with very heavy flow. I’d get out from under the heating pad to get Midol about an hour before I needed to get ready for school so I’d be able to get around in time for school, I couldn’t walk upright. My doctor finally had to give me birth control as a young teen to stabilize my period, which helped to some extent. It was almost normal for a time, and started much more regularly, but then it started flowing heavily again, and went from a week to ten days long. I still didn’t have cramps as bad as they had been. Since having a partial hysterectomy due to a large fibroid in the uterine muscle that was causing problems, I have wondered if maybe the problems with my cycle might have been caused by a fibroid all along. Had I realized all those years ago that a ten day cycle wasn’t normal, and the very heavy flow also wasn’t normal I’d have gone in sooner and maybe been saved years of suffering.

My point being, many times we females think we just have to “suck it up” and suffer and that there is no alleviation beyond Midol and a heating pad for harsh cycles. This isn’t necessarily the case, and some doctors will listen and do what they can to find a solution. You just have to be persistant.

teen version Midol [/SPOILER]

What’s the difference between this and regular Midol? If it’s strength, why on earth would anyone want it? (I could say the same for ‘regular strength’ Midol-- give me that and I’m giving it straight back to the side of your head).

I can’t answer your question, but I can’t say enough good things about antiprostaglandins. Back in the old days before ibuprofen, my periods would reduce me to rolling around on the floor sobbing (which was taken for hystrionics rather than actual pain. BCPs also took care of it but I had a lot of concerns about them). When antiprostaglandins were introduced for cramps, I found Motrin very effective. Naprosyn did not work for me. If one antiprostaglandin doesn’t work for your daughter, she may want to try another. I will say parenthetically that Midol makes me worse.

Ditto. I got my first period about five years before Advil was released. Went from being almost incapacitated to almost being able to forget it. And when Aleve was released I was finally able to sleep through an entire night without being awakened by cramps. (Advil only last about 3-4 hours, Aleve can last up to 8)

What really helps is to start taken them right before your period starts. Once you’ve started cramping, it takes a lot longer for the pain to subside.

One more vote for trying various OTC drugs. Aleve is my magic pill–it has taken me from rolled up in a ball and unable to answer questions, to feeling normal–usually within half an hour. It’s good stuff.

And I thought you were my buddy…>snerk<

I have carpal tunnel syndrome combined with a ganglyon cyst - took four years of nastiness and two surgeries to tell me it’s not fixed.

And you, my loving friends, wonder why I can’t type? It is, of course, the fault of my feline overlords.

Good point, after several periods (no pun in tended) of missing school for menstruation days, we did the doctor/ultrasound/birth control pill thing.

[spoiler]They said there were over 30 fibroids in my ute. I was always pretty clotty, and didn’t think anything of it all until five or so years later a follow up ultrasound by a different doctor showed no fibroids. He said that fibroids just don’t go away and I was likely mis diagnosed (maybe they were seeing the clotty tissue yet unshed?). Who knows. I’ve been okayish since, but ask me again in five years.

At the time I lost weight because they gave me prescription Naproxen which made me very sick to my stomach (and or it was the pill itself) but kicked pain’s butt). Aleve came out a while later.[/spoiler]

There are versions of the pill out now that let you only have your period on rare occasions, and absence of period means absence of associated PMS. Within the parameters of the pill being, generically speaking, save for a 14 year old, taking it on this basis and dispensing with all but maybe 2 periods per year should also be safe for 14 year olds. (IANAD though)

Ouch, and thanks. That’s what that darn thing in my hand is called.

I have not tried Aleve, but I agree that antiprostaglandins are the way to go…I used to take 4 Ibuprofen at a time (this is, I think, 800 Milligrams, which was the amount my doctor prescribed when it was still by prescription only…don’t go over the amount recommend on the package without advice from a doctor). Because of the problem with it wearing off after 4-5 hours, I would set my alarm clock to take another dose in the middle of the night. Advil brand has liquicaps which work amazingly fast, if a dose is missed and she needs relief quickly.

I did this for a day every month for almost 20 years…until I had my daughter…the cramps are very, very mild now…I should have had her a lot sooner! For me, Ibuprofen was seriously a miracle.

All that being said, she should definitely see a doc to be sure the prostaglandins are the problem, and not something more serious like the fibroids mentioned earlier, or endometriosis.

I, to this day, when I get periods, have periods that make me writhe in pain so badly that I cannot move. I have to call out of work, I’m nauseated, my entire body aches from being curled into the fetal position for hours on end. And unfortunately, it’s NOT cysts - my uterus just hates me. I’ve had so many scans and tests done, on every part of my reproductive organs, and there’s nothing wrong with them save a bit of overactiveness.

When I first got my periods, a heating pad DID WONDERS! I’m also going to second the hot drink - hot chocolate was the best for me because it was chocolate, and it was hot. Advil/ibuprofen helped, but anti-inflammatories can cause some serious stomach issues if taken in large doses (as I had to) regularly - to this day I have some serious gastrointestinal issues.

So I’d have your daughter go to the gynocologist (14 isn’t too young, if she hasn’t gone yet - and she’s getting to the age where she might, perish the thought, think of becoming sexually active, so it’s best to start early with this kind of thing anyway). There might be something wrong, or she might just need some hormone therapy. That’s what I did - two years of depo and now I don’t have a period, with no side effects except that my breasts have gotten a little larger (which my boyfriend LOVES, of course :slight_smile: ).


In my case, being cool helps. My hands are always cold, just placing one over my tummy right below the navel helps. When that hand warms up, I switch hands.

I’m also one of the lucky ones for whom 600mg of Ibuprofen (the standard 1-pill size here, if you ask the pharmacist for “Ibuprofen” and not “something for menstrual pain”) works just fine.

Do NOT ever take aspirin for menstrual pain. Sounds like a silly thing to have to say, but one of my friends gave herself a bleeding ulcer at 15 that way :smack: She’s a doctor now.

Because the pain is from overtightening cramps in smooth muscle, normal muscle relaxants have no effect on it. Valium for example is only a skeletal muscle relaxant. Works great on a twisted neck, but has no effect on periods.

Ahem. Though you would not wish to give a teenaged daughter this, a known smooth muscle relaxant is alcohol. In the old days before they had better drugs they would try to stop labor in mothers who were showing signs of delivering babies prematurely by giving them intravenous alcohol. The moms complained of feeling drunk. Plus nausea. Plus side effects on the baby (too late for fetal alcohol syndrome, fortunately) - we wouldn’t want to do this nowadays.

Knowing this, one year when I had a wicked period on a day off from work, I decided to try alcohol along with the heating pad and so forth. (Note: Alcohol and anti-prostaglandins each tear up the stomach lining in their own way. Their effects are additive. Do not take ibies etc on an empty stomach. If you are nauseous and can’t eat, take Tums or generic thereof and water until your stomach is at least approaching neutral pH. You’ll thank me.)

I am here to report that it does work, but unfortunately it doesn’t work until you get so much alcohol down you that the primary effects are of alcohol with cramping only secondary. That is, too dizzy from the drink to get out of bed. Since I was alone in the house, I do not know if I also talked really loudly and laughed hysterically at unfunny stuff. I just went to sleep.

I mention this sidebar simply to disseminate accurate information on the Dope. I am not inviting a teenager to get stone cold drunk once a month just to keep from having cramps.

Besides, heating pads, ibies, and the birth control pill really work.