MILLIONS of women suffer with the monthly misery of period pains.
But experts say that could be a thing of the past after developing a hi-tech patch to ease the agony of menstruation.
The wafer-thin patch, known as Allay, is worn on the stomach and generates 1,000 pain-killing pulses per second.
Powered by batteries, it can be worn for 24 hours a day for five days before being taken off, charged up and used again.
It works by passing a small electric current through a wire loop in the patch which generates an undetectable magnetic field that pulses into the abdominal tissue.
The patch's US manufacturer, BioElectronics, claims this triggers the cells to pump out excess fluid, reduce bloating, pain and swelling.
It's been shown to slash pain levels by more than 70 per cent – and the NHS has even started setting up trials, the Daily Mail reports.
Period pain, medically known as dysmenorrhoea, affects as many as nine in ten women.
It's caused by the muscular wall of the womb contracting to help the lining shed – which happens every month as part of a woman's period.
When the wall of the womb contracts, it compresses the blood vessels lining the womb and can temporarily cut off the blood and oxygen supply.
Without oxygen, the tissues in the womb release chemicals that trigger pain.
Sometimes dysmenorrhoea can be due to an underlying medical condition, including endometriosis, infections and fibroids.
Typically it's treated with over-the-counter pain relief or doctors can prescribe stronger, prescription drugs.
If the pain is being caused by endometriosis or fibroids, surgery can often be a solution.
Sixty women who suffer with dysmenorrhoea are taking part in a two-month trial of Allay at the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust.
The manufacturer claims that unpublished research has shown that the patch can be effective, with pain levels falling by 31 per cent on the first day of us and by 63 per cent by the fifth day.
Overall, 77 per cent of the women had reduced pain levels compared with 14 per cent in the control group.
7 ways to beat period pains
PERIODS can make everyday life seem almost impossible.
If you don't have a condition like endometriosis or PCOS, you can reduce a lot of the discomfort simply by adopting a few dietary and daily habits.
1. Dark chocolate
Many of us are low on magnesium, and that's a mineral which can help ease belly cramps by relaxing the smooth muscle in the womb.
You get it from dark chocolate, whole grain bread, nuts and dark leafy greens.
2. Ditch coffee
Caffeine can actually make cramps worse because it's a vasoconstrictor – meaning that it makes the blood vessels in your body constrict.
That includes making the vessels in your womb tighten, making cramps even more excruciating than they were in the beginning.
3. Go for a walk
When we exercise, we release endorphins which can help to elevate mood and make us feel better.
They're also a natural painkiller so can go some way to reducing belly pain.
4. Eat more beetroot and celery
Feeling bloated? Then get making a salad to go with your dinner.
Thanks to the fact that celery contains lots of potassium, the watery veg can help to reduce water tension during your period.
Beetroot, on the other hand, has the opposite effect to coffee.
It's full of nitrates which gently relax the blood vessels, helping blood flow and oxygen back into the womb.
5. Grab your hot water bottle
Having a warm bath or applying a hot water bottle has been scientifically proven to be painkilling.
Scientists at University College London found that heat treatment works by blocking pain messages to the brain and that placing something warm on the skin can get rid of abdominal pain in a similar way to painkillers for up to an hour.
6. Have a massage
Massage has long been used to relieve symptoms of period pain.
But you don't have to book an expert. Here's some you can try yourself:
- Raise your pelvis: lying flat on your back, place one flat hand on top of the other and place both under your tailbone. This will slightly raise your pelvis. Breathe deeply into this position.
- Belly press: still lying flat and using either or both hands, press gently on the spot two inches below your belly button. Increase the pressure as feels comfortable.
- Pubic bone: using the flat of your hands, press down on your pubic bone. Then, using your fingers, apply targeted pressure along the top of the bone, moving out to the hip joints. You should be able to feel any areas of increased tension. Hold your press here until the discomfort starts to subside.
7. Try some yoga
Our bodies start to tense up when we're in pain and that can make cramps feel even worse.
Your best bet is to try to relax by getting into some very simple yoga poses.
Yoga with Adriene is probably the biggest yogi on YouTube, and she's put together a sequence especially for anyone struggling with period cramps and bloating.
You don't need any props or special equipment – you just need some pillows and towels.
Moves include Cat-Cow, which is where you go onto all fours, arching your back and then inverting your back – pushing your bum to the ceiling.
There are also single leg stretches, back stretches, and moves which simply involve sitting with a pile of pillows on your legs as you cuddle them.
Elias Kovoor, a consultant gynaecologist at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, told the Mail: "Treatments for dysmenorrhoea include pain killers and hormonal options such as the contraceptive pill.
"These are very effective and have the advantage of reducing bleeding.
"Unfortunately, side-effects are common, especially the hormonal ones, which limits their use in many patients.
"This patch seems attractive, as it’s devoid of any hormonal side-effects, but further clinical trials are mandatory to assess its safety and efficacy before adoption into routine practice."
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