Tech, Science, Now + Beyond

Get ready to say goodbye to period pain

Screw you, Shark Week.

Launched just two years ago to overwhelmingly positive reviews, Livia has sold over 200,000 units on Indiegogo.com alone. Now as it begins its journey from online stores such as Amazon.com to retail stores worldwide. So what is this “revolutionary” new solution to women’s monthly pain?

According to Professor Bari Kaplan of Women’s Hospital, Beilinson, Livia sends gentle pulses to your central nervous system. This stimulates the nerves to “close the ‘pain gates,’” preventing your brain from registering pain. In short, Livia, which is FDA approved, is scientifically proven to reduce the pain of period cramps.

Invented by Dr. Zvi Nachum and developed by his son Chen Nachum, the product is intended as a “natural step” towards pain-free menstrual cycles. One of the major advantages of Livia is that it is completely drug-free and does not have any known side effects. It provides a much-needed alternative to pain medication, which can have serious repercussions. Indeed, according to Livia representative John Pohl, many parents of teenage daughters favor Livia as an alternative to birth control pills for menstrual pain relief. Contraceptive pills consist of synthetic hormones and have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer and heart attacks; gallbladder disease; and blood clotting, to name a few.

What’s more, Livia brings quicker and more complete pain relief than medication; which can take up to 30 minutes to kick in, and even then, can only provide temporary, partial relief.

The adaptability of Livia to suit the needs of different women makes it appeal to a wide audience. Livia does not discriminate; any women, of any age, can relieve her pain by using Livia. From mild cramping to crippling endometriosis, Livia seems to be a perfect solution for women across the spectrum of menstrual pain. The customizable nature of Livia (it comes in different colors or ‘skins’) ensures that it can be personalized to each individual’s tastes.

Livia’s mission is simple: allow women to take control of their lives by alleviating their menstrual pain. Regardless of what time of the month it is women are allowed to be comfortable and productive; whether it be while working, exercising, relaxing or sleeping. The discreet design (which is very compact, and therefore easy to hide under clothing) allows women to go about their daily routines undisturbed either by the unit or cramps.

So, what are the wider societal implications of Livia? It is exciting to see scientific advancements targeted specifically at women with the intent of improving their quality and ease of life. Livia also is a tool to encourage public awareness and education about menstrual health. From the product’s website to the entertaining video created to explain it, Livia is using its platform to spark conversations about menstrual health. The video alone has gained significant attention with over 300,000 views on YouTube, demonstrating Livia’s wide sphere of influence and its capacity for fostering change. Women and young girls are learning about safer and more effective methods of coping with periods.

All things considered, Livia seems to be a godsend. High success rates (80% of women who underwent clinical trials claimed that Livia “significantly or completely” replaces pain medications), and raving reviews make a life-changing combination. Livia has turned the dream of continuing normal activities, unhindered by cramps or pain, into an achievable reality.

The only factor undermining this utopic image is Livia’s price tag. Retailing for US$191 on their website, as incredible as the product sounds, it is unaffordable for many. The product appears to be aimed at a specific clientele who have enough expendable income to justify its cost.

For some people from low-income backgrounds even basic hygiene products are too expensive. Described as “non-essentials” many women globally are forced to improvise with easily accessible materials, such as rags, wood shavings, leaves and cow dung. For these women, Livia would be an inconceivable luxury. Furthermore, it is often these women who are hit the hardest by menstrual pain. Research suggests that an increased vitamin intake can alleviate menstrual pain. However, with a lack of access to these vitamins, lower-income women are already at a disadvantage when it comes to coping with periods.

Livia has immense potential for bringing menstrual pain relief, not only to the rich but the poor as well. Livia could be endorsed by charities or government-supported social welfare programmes to extend its outreach to individuals from low-income backgrounds. Through schemes similar to the ‘One for One’ model implemented by TOMS, perhaps Livia can provide menstrual health support for those unable to cover the cost, expanding its influence and impact on women globally.

All in all, I’m pretty excited for my Livia device to come so that I can see if it is really worth all the hype.