thermacare menstrual heat wraps

Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer

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A Different Kind of Pad You Wear When You've Got Terrible PMS
What: ThermaCare Menstrual Heat Wraps, $7 for three

What for: Period cramps

How it works: Adhesive tabs help keep these single-use heating pads in place against your lower abdomen, where they deliver soothing warmth for up to 8 hours.

Why they might help: This is a modern, high-tech, low-cost version of the old-fashioned hot water bottle. Victorian maidens swore by this treatment, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists likes it, too. The long-standing theory is that the heat relaxes muscle contractions. Some newer research also suggests that applying warmth activates heat receptors located at the site of injury, which in turn block chemical messengers that trigger your body to recognize pain.

One more thing: These products can get hot enough to cause minor burns if applied wrong or left on for too long, and you're introducing them into some highly sensitive territory. Be sure to read all the fine print before trying for yourself.