Content Warning: descriptions of medical symptoms, blood.
Do you have a uterus?
Do you sometimes wish that you didn’t!?
Well then, this is the article for you my friend!
(If you do NOT have a uterus, I suggest you pause for a small moment of gratitude, then keep reading anyway so you can potentially help out the people in your life that do.)
You may have seen a new product floating around on Instagram known as the CycleSoother, a small device that combines infrared heating and massage to increase blood flow to the uterus (and surrounding areas) to ease period pain. It’s currently on sale for £27.49 and appears to be racking up rave reviews, but should you take the plunge and actually buy one? Read on to find out…
Please note: CycleSoother is kindly offering our community a 10% discount with the code “delicatelittlepetal.” However, I paid for my own CycleSoother and drafted this review BEFORE approaching them for a reader discount, so you can rest assured that all opinions are my own and unaffected by this fact. Depending on where you live, I may earn a small commission if you use this code to make a purchase at CycleSoother.co.uk.
Click here to go straight to the summary of pros and cons!
I live with Menorrhagia, which means that I experience heavy menstrual bleeding and pass large blood clots, which can cause severe cramping. I also have undiagnosed pelvic pain problems which present in various ways, usually for at least three out of every four weeks of my menstrual cycle.
I have tried a long list of treatments for these problems, with varying degrees of success. The issue is made more complicated by the fact that I also suffer from PMDD, a psychiatric/endocrine disorder which can be exacerbated by certain hormonal treatments, such as the contraceptive pill.
Prior to starting formal treatment for my other chronic pain conditions, I was a big fan of infrared sauna sessions. Something I noticed was that they really helped ease my menstrual cramps (even though regular heating pads didn’t do much for me). Because of this, I was fascinated by the CycleSoother’s infrared heating and had to investigate. I decided to test the CycleSoother in a variety of situations over a three week period…and I have to say, I was impressed! Not only did the product work well for me, but I also experienced excellent customer service, with CycleSoother kindly arranging special delivery to Belgium for me and promptly answering any questions that I had.
(I am currently trialing anti-androgenic hormones to help with my PMDD, and these have also had the effect of somewhat easing my pelvic pain, however, I have specifically left a month in between starting this treatment and trialing the CycleSoother in order to make clear observations.)
Test #1: The warm up cramps
This is how I “affectionately” refer to the cramps that spring up as soon as I’ve ovulated and hang around until my period starts. This phase of my cycle is definitely something that improved after switching to anti-androgenic hormones, however, these cramps were still quite bothersome in the last five or so days before my period, giving me the perfect opportunity to start using my new CycleSoother.
The first things that I noticed were that the CycleSoother was easy to take on and off, and that it sat flush against the body. It was definitely comfortable to wear, however, I did notice that as an Australian size 10 (UK size 8), I had the belt expanded to around 75 % of its size to have it sitting comfortably on my lower hips. It was clear that the belt could stretch far further, but this would definitely create a clear dent under clothing, ruining its ability to be discreetly concealed. Unfortunately, I feel like this product is perhaps not quite as size inclusive as it claims to be.
The second thing that I tried was turning on the infrared heat. This was AMAZING! I noticed near instant relief from my cramps to the point that I thought I may be imagining it. However, subsequent removal of the belt made it clear that I was not, as the pain came rushing right back!
The CycleSoother has three heat settings. The middle setting was perfect for me. The first setting did not seem to get hot enough to provide relief and the third setting was just a little TOO hot and caused some minor redness and irritation to my skin.
I was eager to see how using the massage function on top of this would affect the level of pain relief I was getting. There were again, three possible settings, this time in the form of three different massage patterns. The first setting, a constant pulsing, provided excellent relief but frankly an annoying level of noise pollution. The second setting, alternating one long and two short pulses, was similar. The third setting, a slow constant vibration, was far less irritating to the ears but only provided modest relief from strong cramps.
Test #2: The main event
Ah! Such a magical time of the month!
Once my period started and my cramps significantly upped their anti, I found myself much more willing to tolerate the noise from the massage functions. The quick repeated pulses definitely seemed to be the most effective for me.
I found that I was able to wear the CycleSoother for big chunks of my day without a problem. It’s flexible band and convenient shape meant that it re-positioned itself comfortably during most of my day to day activities. The only drawback I noticed was that it was quite easy to accidentally change settings by bumping the buttons.
I quickly became accustomed to having this convenient source of pain relief on hand and later one afternoon (when I had a fresh surge of cramps) I found myself having a sort of “craving” for it.
Unfortunately, after just a few minutes it ran out of battery!
“Why is this taking so long to charge!” I snarled at my unsuspecting fiancé. Being a professional engineer, he explained to me that it takes a lot of energy to generate heat, and the fact that it had already lasted as long as it did when I had started using it straight out of the box (without charging it) was quite impressive. All up, I would say the battery took about 3.5 hours to recharge after being run all the way down. After charging sessions I was able to get around 2.5 hours use (spread out sporadically) of the heating function, combined with short bursts of massage.
Overall, I definitely took slightly less pain medication than I normally would this week (I don’t use a lot to begin with because nothing really works that well!) and I generally just felt less “icky” and heavy, presumably due to having better circulation.
Test #3: The nap
Getting quality rest is important for us all, however, it is especially important if you live with chronic fatigue or another chronic illness. I am currently practising strict pacing in order to maintain my energy levels and avoid flare ups of my other conditions. For me, this means taking short naps 3-4 times a day, a practise which is easily encumbered by painful cramps.
It’s obvious from the design of the CycleSoother that it can be worn while lying on the back, but would it work for a dedicated side sleeper like me?
Fortunately, the answer was yes! Some minor adjustment of the belt was required in order to get comfortable, but apart from that it was no trouble at all and the device still sat flush against my body.
I definitely felt that the relief provided by the CycleSoother made it easier to relax and fall asleep. During intense cramps, I still felt that there as an uncomfortable squeezing sensation radiating into other areas of my body and causing nausea, but the actual pain was reduced significantly.
This makes sense. The CycleSoother works by maintaining the blood flow to the pelvic area and preventing its supply of oxygen from being cut off by cramps (the primary cause of period pain), but it is does not prevent the actual contractions themselves.
It’s important to note that the CycleSoother is not intended for use during sleep. The infrared heating means that it should not be held in the same position on the body for an extended period of time. I felt comfortable using it for a short nap with a timer (as I had already tried using it for a longer period of time whilst awake) but you should proceed with caution if you do this.
Test #4: The back massage
I had seen other women on Instagram using their CycleSoother as a lower back heat pack/massager and wanted to see what it would be like. Back pain is a common problem among those of us who suffer from painful periods, as well among pretty much every other group in the chronic pain community.
The obvious advantage of using the cycle soother as a heat pack is that it doesn’t need to be warmed up. This was a HUGE blessing first thing in the morning when my stiff, crackly body didn’t want to get out of bed, let alone walk up a flight of stairs to the floor with the microwave. It’s also more lightweight and portable than a heat pack.
I found the infrared heat to be very soothing for my back pain and once again the comfortable strap was great for keeping it in place while going about my day. However, I didn’t feel that any of the massage functions were vigorous enough to provide tangible relief for tight back muscles…plus the device makes an even worse noise when pressed up against the back of a chair.
I also think that the CycleSoother could be uncomfortable when sitting against certain types of chairs, so I’m not quite ready to throw away my traditional heat packs, but there are definitely situations where I’ll continue to use the CycleSoother on my back.
Test #5: The cool down cramps
This is the week in which the bleeding has stopped but my uterine walls don’t seem to have gotten the memo.
I don’t really feel that there is a lot that I can add about my experience with the CycleSoother during this time. I experienced a good level of relief from my cramps by primarily just using the heating function, similar to during my “warm-up” cramps.
I would say the main difference is that during this week I am more prone to bursts of sharp, piercing cramps. I did not really get to see the effect of the CycleSoother on these, as they come and go so quickly. I will also add that I tend to have some residual bloating and intestinal discomfort after my period has ended, and I found the CycleSoother also helped ease the discomfort associated with this, even if I wasn’t having actual cramps.
Pros + + +
EFFECTIVE PAIN RELIEF
Convenient and comfortable to wear
Portable and lightweight
Easy to conceal under clothing if desired
No side effects
Re-usable and cost effective
Great customer service
Cons – – –
Some people will find the sound of massage functions irritating
Easy to accidentally change settings during the day
Takes a long time to charge (if battery is run all the way down)
Does not help with nausea
Not 100% convinced about size inclusivity
In conclusion, the CycleSoother is definitely a product that I would recommend, especially to those who suffer from particularly heavy or painful periods. It is a drug and side effect free alternative (or supplement) to traditional pain relief options, and for me personally, it has been more effective than any other lifestyle modification or natural treatment that I have tried. There are some small drawbacks, primarily, the sound emitted by the massaging function and the sensitivity of the buttons, but overall I believe it is likely to be a convenient addition to anyone’s pain management arsenal.
Fancy picking up your very own CycleSoother?
Go to the CycleSoother website and use the code “delicatelittlepetal” for 10% off!
Are there any other chronic pain products that you would like me to review? Let me know in the comments below or via the contact page.