Period pain, or dysmenorrhoea, is a condition affecting up to 95% of menstruating women, according to a report published in the journal Human Reproduction Update.
Dysmenorrhea is classified into two types: primary, wherein no known health conditions can account for the painful cramps, and secondary, during which the pain occurs as a result of a diagnosed disorder, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids.
In a study testing the effectiveness of acupuncture treatments in relieving period pain revealed some interesting results. The study was led by Australian researchers at the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) at Western Sydney University, and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Auckland. Their findings were published in the journal PLOS One.
Seventy-four adult women aged between 18 and 45 enrolled in the study. They all had confirmed or suspected primary dysmenorrhea, and no diagnosis leading to the detection of secondary dysmenorrhea.
The women were randomly split into four groups: two high frequency groups and two low frequency groups. Manual acupuncture was assigned to one high frequency and one low frequency group, with the remaining two undergoing electroacupuncture. Electroacupuncture is a form of acupuncture where a small electric current is passed between pairs of acupuncture needles and transmits electrical impulses to the body.
The participants in the high frequency groups received three acupuncture treatments 1 week prior to the start of their menstrual period. Meanwhile, the women in the low frequency groups received three treatments every 7 to 10 days, between their menstrual periods.
All participants were administered 12 acupuncture treatments over three menstrual cycles. They also underwent a treatment in the first 48 hours of their menstrual period.
It was found that the women undergoing acupuncture more frequently experienced more significant improvements in period pain intensity and related symptoms, as well as in overall quality of life.
All the participants involved in the study were asked to keep a diary and note details about the development of their menstrual period symptoms throughout the trial. The researchers reported more than half the women undergoing manual acupuncture experienced a decrease in period pain and related symptoms by up to 50 percent.
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