review Gadgets

With Livia, it’s cramps begone!

The different skin colours of Livia, along with a user  

Social media has a way of really getting into your head using targeted ads. But when my Instagram feed started to be peppered with Livia ads, my curiosity was piqued.

With India’s Menstruation Benefit Bill — aimed to provide menstrual leave — tabled for a while now, the possibility of pain-induced leave as a trans-corporation policy is cloudier than ever. And with the Livia priced at $149 at the moment, it is not easy for every woman to get her hands on this.

Each device comes with:
  • Livia flower pads
  • Classic cover (in a colour of your choice)
  • USB charging cable
  • Travel case
  • 3-month supply of gel pads

Shipping of the Livia to your doorstep requires quite a bit of patience. Mine took about a month, and when it was finally in my hands, I was nervous yet eager to try it out. Plus, it comes in a fun, vibrant colour of your choosing. The electrode pads with non-toxic adhesive gel, a travel case and a USB charging cable are in individual packs. It is compact, thanks to the minimal design and singular goal.

Beyond the hype

I didn’t want to try this out without speaking to the team behind the product; it only seemed fair, seeing as this type of wearable requires quite a bit of trust. Livia’s VP of commerce Ran Halbershtain admits over Skype that he is pretty new to the fem-tech space. The device and technology was invented by Israeli technologist Zvi Nachum and Livia was founded by his son Chen Nachum. The device required crowd-funding to move forward in the investor space and soon ₹46,296,022 was raised by 7,385 backers by June 6 in 2016 on Indiegogo. Research revealed the teenyboppers at Cosmopolitan and even the folks at Wired gave the device their thumbs-up.

The Livia in its travel case

The Livia in its travel case  

The history behind Livia comprises copious research and tons of trials, which proved successful after several phases of development. At the moment, according to Ran, the Livia technology is being patented, adding, “The frequencies are specially created to match those with period pain. The brain and nervous system then can correspond with the impulses sent by the device. Our testing groups were sceptical at first, but the women found the device to be more effective than traditional methods such as pain pills.”

What is Gate Control Theory, the technology in the device? Having done some digging, I learned quite a bit. According to 2016 journal article ‘The Gate Theory of Pain Revisited: Modeling Different Pain Conditions with a Parsimonious Neurocomputational Model’, the writers of the study Francisco Javier Ropero Peláez and Shirley Taniguchi set up a “neurocomputational model” which they found to be “consistent with biological ones in that nociceptive signals are blocked on their way to the brain every time a tactile stimulus is given at the same locus where the pain was produced.” So in layman’s terms, this device is non-invasive and uses impulses sent by the device’s electrodes — placed strategically over the lower abdomen and stops the pain. Sounds simple enough.

Simple for the solution

Soon enough, day one rolled around, and the nausea and pain hit like a juggernaut. I quickly assembled the Livia and placed the electrode pads on my lower abdomen, tugged my sweatshirt over the device, which is neatly equipped with a waistband clip and doesn’t feel uncomfortable at all.

An example of an assembled Livia

An example of an assembled Livia  

The Livia doesn’t look complicated and this is intentional; it comes with programmable pain control intensities; pressing the ‘+’ sign increases pain control which you can see with a small light. I upped the pain control level and within 10 minutes, the pain started to abate. Full disclosure: this may not be for every girl dealing with cramps; some don’t like the idea of using a device, while others may not be comfortable with the slight buzz from the electrodes. It is best I am clear that these impulses are not electrical; they come across as a pulling of sorts.

Be sure to carry your charging cable with you too. The Livia needs to be used for only 10 to 30 minutes after which the pain is dealt with, meaning you don’t need to sleep with the Livia on. Plus working out with the Livia is a seamless. Storing the device is easy, thanks to the travel case provided. Using it in the office is also a breeze; it does come with curious looks and questions. “This is a pain-cancelling device for period cramps,” I’d say and the response would be a hurried nod followed by a subject change to the hot summer. If I can’t be open about the very part of my life which affects my well-being, how else will the space for such solutions grow?

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2021 11:31:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/gadgets/livia-device-review-by-bye-cramps/article27056615.ece

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