A study conducted by researchers from Western Sydney University and the University of Auckland has shown that acupuncture treatment significantly reduces period pain intensity, duration and symptoms over time, with improvements being sustained up to a year after treatment.
Primary Dysmenorrhea (period pain) is the most common gynaecological complaint in menstruating women with up to four in five women suffering at some stage during their reproductive years.
The pilot study involved 74 women aged 18-45 years with primary dysmenorrhea and no known cause of secondary dysmenorrhea from Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand.
Over half the women receiving manual acupuncture had at least 50% reduction in their severity of period pain over the 3 months of treatment.
The paper published in the international journal PLOS ONE, also shows a connection between treatment and the improvements in health-related quality of life, such as overall physical status, vitality, social function, and bodily pain.
The randomised controlled trial was led by Dr Mike Armou, postdoctoral research fellow from NICM Health Research Institute with fellow researchers from Western Sydney University and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Auckland.
Dr Armour says the results are promising and with further larger trials may lead to the development of evidence-based guidelines for acupuncture in the treatment of period pain and its associated symptoms. Women in the trial kept a menstrual diary and were given individualised acupuncture treatments after being randomly assigned to different groups. Twelve treatments were performed over three menstrual cycles, either once per week (low frequency groups) or three times in the week prior to their period (high frequency groups). All women also received a treatment in the first 48 hours of their period. All treatments were determined based on Chinese Medicine diagnosis. A manualised protocol was used which allowed selection from a number of suitable acupuncture points based on the Chinese Medicine diagnosis.
Research: Armour M, Dahlen HG, Zhu X, Farquhar C, Smith CA (2017) The role of treatment timing and mode of stimulation in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea with acupuncture: An exploratory randomised controlled trial. PLoS ONE 12(7): e0180177. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0180177.