Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation to reduce pain with medication abortion: A randomized placebo-controlled trial
Awarded 2019
Complex Family Planning Fellowship Research
Ariella Goldman, MD
Planned Parenthood of New York City

In 2017, medication abortion accounted for 39% of all induced abortions. However, pain remains a predictable and significant feature of medication abortion and is frequently cited as one of its worst features. Given that unacceptable numbers of patients still report severe pain despite currently available options for medical pain management, there is a need to evaluate other modalities. There is very limited investigation into non-pharmacologic pain management modalities for medication abortion. High frequency transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (Hf TENS) is a well-established, non-invasive technique proven to decrease pain with uterine cramping associated with dysmenorrhea, suggesting a role for Hf TENS in pain management for medication abortion. We hypothesize that Hf TENS may be an effective non-pharmacologic intervention to reduce pain with medication abortion. We will also aim to assess the acceptability and usability of TENS to patients seeking medical abortion within the framework of an RCT and evaluate differences in the use of additional analgesia during the medication abortion.