Investigators from Australia and New Zealand report that acupuncture treatment can reduce menstrual pain intensity, and that its effects can still be felt one year later. A randomised controlled trial was performed with 74 women randomly assigned to one of four treatment arms: low frequency manual acupuncture (LF-MA), high frequency manual acupuncture (HF-MA), low frequency electro-acupuncture (LF-EA) and high frequency electro-acupuncture (HF-EA). A clinical manual-based protocol was used to allow individualised treatment, with a maximum of seven points used per treatment and a total of 12 treatments performed over three menstrual cycles, either once per week (LF groups) or three times per week (HF groups), in the week prior to menstruation. All groups also received a treatment in the first 48 hours of their period. Acupuncture was found to reduce menstrual pain intensity and duration after three months of treatment, and this was sustained for up to one year after the start of the research. The mode of stimulation or frequency of treatment was not found to be significant, although the authors suggest that this may be due to a lack of statistical power. During the treatment period and nine month follow-up all groups showed statistically significant reductions in peak and average menstrual pain compared to baseline, but there were no differences between groups. Health-related quality of life increased significantly in six domains in groups with a high frequency of treatment compared to only two domains in low frequency groups. Manual acupuncture groups required less analgesic medication than electro-acupuncture groups. HF-MA was most effective in reducing secondary menstrual symptoms compared to both-EA groups.
The role of treatment timing and mode of stimulation in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea with acupuncture: An exploratory randomised controlled trial. PLoS One. 2017 Jul 12;12(7):e0180177.