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When Menstruation is Painful

I like being a woman but for a few days every month I hate it. Yes I’m talking about periods and period pain to be exact, you men have it easy! For the first day of my period I suffer from bad period pain, the kind of pain that makes you want to roll up in a ball and wish you were dead (well maybe not dead but at least painfree). The only thing I find that works is taking regular Ibuprofen and having a hot water bottle fixed to my stomach. Sometimes its not too bad but there is usually a day every few months that I struggle in the morning to get to work because of the pain. Obviously going to work with a hot water bottle attached to your stomach is a) rather noticeable and b) not very practical. So a few months ago when I saw this product I thought I would give it a try.

What is it?
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It is called a Heat Soother and is made by Lil-lets who make tampons and other sanitary protection. It is a discreet patch which you stick to your skin and it heats up giving you six hours of heat designed to help alleviate the muscle cramps and pains that occur when you have your period.

How much does it cost?
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There are two patches in the box. Each patch can only be used once then must be discarded. The box cost me 3.29 and I bought mine in Sainsburys. They are however currently on special offer for only 2.19 however this won’t last so I am off to stock up!

Where do I buy them?
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They are available in most large supermarkets and chemist stores. In Sainsbury’s they are on the shelves next to the sanitary protection products. You might have expected to find them in the aisle with the painkillers and pain relieving sprays but although they have heat patches for back pain here these particular patches are kept by the womens products.

What do they look like?
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They are very slim white coloured patches. Made from the kind of material that a sanitary pad is made of that kind of papery cotton feeling. They are really thin only a few millimetres thick so they fit snugly onto your skin and don’t show beneath your clothes. They have a sticky layer on one side which attaches to your skin and keeps the patch in place.

How does it work?
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To be honest the packet doesn’t really explain but I think there are chemicals inside the patch that when you peel the back layer off the patch and attach it to your skin they react and product the heat. The patch warms up gradually to around 40◦C and continues for six hours. This heat helps relax the muscles and avoids the cramping aches and pains associated with your period.

How do I use it?
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The instructions are clearly written, I like the fact they are printed on the outside packet but also on each of the individual patch wrappers. This means if you have taken them out of the box and have it in your bag you still have the instructions close at hand to refer to. Read the instructions first to check you can use them. Then tear open the wrapper and peel off the plastic strip. Apply the sticky side onto your skin, ensuring first that your skin is dry and free from oily moisturisers. The patch should stay in place but you can add microporous tape if you feel the patch slipping. After 6 hours gently peel the patch off, allow the patch to cool before disposing of in a rubbish bin.

Can anyone use them?
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There are a few precautions. If you have bruised, inflamed, broken or irritated skin you should not apply the patch in these areas. Likewise although you can use one patch after another you should not apply a patch to the same area more than once in 24 hours. If you have diabetes, circulatory problems or dermatological conditions (including eczema) then they recommend you consult your GP first. I do have eczema but not on my stomach and I didn’t find this product irritating at all. If you do develop a rash you should remove the product immediately.

The packet says you should consult your doctor before use during pregnancy (didn’t think you got periods then but guess you might use it for general pain relief). It is not recommended for children under 12 unless supervised by an adult. They don’t recommend you wear it overnight I think this is incase you lie on it and the pressure causes excess heat on your skin. Likewise you should avoid tight belts as excess pressure may cause a build up in heat in one area.

You should not get the patch wet or use it on wet skin or with medicated creams, oils or lotions. They also helpfully tell you not to use this as a sanitary pad! You might get a bit of a shock if you did!

What did I think?
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I love these. To say they have changed my life might be going a bit too far but they have certainly made it a lot less painful. I kept a note of how I felt when I used one last week.

Woke up this morning with my stomach feeling a bit sore but not too bad. I had my hot water bottle on whilst I ate breakfast. At about 8.30am I opened the box and took out a patch. It is wrapped in a cellophane wrapper so I removed this and peeled the paper off the back of the patch revealing the sticky taped side. I pressed the patch against my skin on my lower stomach about an inch or so below my belly button. The patch sticks comfortably on to my skin and is held in place by the sticky surface and also my underwear. It doesn’t really feel warm at the moment but my skin is still warm from the bottle.

I walk to work and on the way there I am starting to notice the warm feeling around my stomach. It feels warm and comforting. At one point in work I feel really quite hot, think this is the combination of the warm patch and the fact the ward is really warm today. My stomach is still feeling painfree even at lunchtime when the painkillers are usually starting to wear off. Every now and again I find myself pressing the patch into my skin to get a extra boost of heat, it feels very soothing.

At lunchtime when I go to the bathroom I check the patch. It is still feeling nice and warm. It has peeled away slightly around the edges but is still maintaining its position. At 2.30pm I go back to the bathroom, I have now reached my 6 hours which is the length of time the manufacturers suggest you wear the patch for. I gently peel the patch off starting at the corner, it comes off gently and there is no pain, it comes off easier than a plaster would. The skin underneath is warm and slightly pink but not red, it looks a bit wrinkled where the creases in the patch have been. There is no irritation or itchy feeling.

The patch has helped me forget about my period and get through the day painfree. I only tend to use them on the first day which is when my pain tends to be really bad. They are discreet to use, no-one can see them under your clothes and they really are effective.

There are other similar products on the market made by other companies, I would recommend you give them a try when your period pain is bad.