The findings of a new study have shown that the intensity and duration of menstrual pain can be reduced by up to 50 per cent by administering manual acupuncture. The study was conducted by Dr Mike Armour of the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) at Western Sydney University in Australia, and his colleagues from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Auckland. Their findings were published in the journal PLOS One.
It was found that the women undergoing acupuncture more frequently experienced more significant improvements in pain intensity and related symptoms, as well as in overall quality of life.
“Pragmatic trials of acupuncture have shown a reduction in pain intensity and an improvement in quality of life in women with period pain; however, the evidence has been limited for how changing the ‘dosage’ of acupuncture might affect the outcome,” says Dr Armour.
This made manual acupuncture significantly more effective in treating period pain than electro-acupuncture, overall.
Our pilot study found that using manual stimulation of the needles, rather than an electrical pulse […] resulted in reduced need for pain-relieving medication and improvement in secondary symptoms such as headaches and nausea.”
All the treatments administered over the course of the study conformed to a manualized protocol relying on data collected from a survey of specialised acupuncturists from Australia and New Zealand, alongside focus groups.
The treatment was grounded in traditional Chinese medicine practices as well as the Zang Fu system, which identifies the unique attributes of each organ and the ways in which they relate to each other.
Dr Armour and colleagues’ findings are intriguing, and they may point to a new treatment for women seeking to minimise the impact of dysmenorrhea on their lives.