Two women who suffer from pretty crippling period pain put two separate period patches to the test. Because no one wants to be popping pills every damn month. Also, hot water bottles don’t exactly work at work.

“I tried the deep heat period pain patch instead of ibuprofen”

Most months I get debilitating period pain on the first day. It feels like my insides are being ripped apart – not neatly, more like how you’d rip a plastic wrapper. I usually resort to Ibuprofen, which I hate, because I don’t like popping pills willy-nilly. And my trusty hot water bottle brings me comfort – but not so great to be cuddling in the office.

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I tried the Deep Heat Period Pain Patch (R21.99 at Clicks) because I’m a big fan of Deep Heat on sore muscles – something about that smell – and I hoped for similar relief. It took a few minutes to warm up, but once it did, I loved the localised warmth it delivered to exactly the achy spot. It was like using a hot water bottle, but more targeted and way less cumbersome, and it had that familiar Deep Heat smell that makes me feel like everything is going to be okay.

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I wore it through the night – not advised, but I did it anyway – and when I woke up the next day it was still a little bit warm! It has a strong enough adhesive to keep it in place, but peeled off easily without leaving any sticky residue. It’s going to be a monthly essential for me from now on, especially in the office where I can wear it discreetly under my clothes.

“I tried the femagene heat patch instead of… basically any pill I can get my hands on”

I never used to get period cramps when I was on the Pill, but since coming off it a couple of years ago, I joined the monthly doubled-over club and fast fell into their pill-sharing circle. The first time I begged a tab off my sister, she gave me two and I slept for four hours – and it was the morning… I react to adult medication like a child. I instinctively know it’s not good for my body. But when that period pain hits, I’m ready to accept anything from any woman’s handbag just to take it away.

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As luck would have it, last month’s moan-and-groan fest resulted in a colleague pulling a heat patch out of her drawer instead. So I tried it. And it actually worked! Not slowly either… Well, that is after I’d figured out how to keep it in place. (There was one awkward moment where it plopped to the floor as I stood chatting to a colleague at her desk. No-Fail method: Over panties, under pants.)

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The Femagene Heat Patch (R117 for a pack of five at Clicks) is thin enough to slip discreetly under your clothing (ignore above method to your own detriment), but wide enough to target even broad abdominal pain (like mine), it lasts for eight hours – and its effects are pretty immediate. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting anything. I mean, if it works so well, why isn’t every woman whipping them out of her handbag, right?

But the relief was real and, while it didn’t numb me entirely like a pill would, it did remove the need for a pill – a huge bonus. I’ll definitely keep using heat patches. I’m chuffed I finally discovered an alternative to meds!

This article was originally published in Women's Health SA.