Acupuncture for primary dysmenorrhoea

Evidence Summaries

Level of Evidence = D
Acupuncture might possibly be effective for primary dysmenorrhoea.

A Cochrane review 1 included 42 studies with a total of 4640 subjects. 6 trials (n=477) reported on acupuncture (compared with sham or placebo control with inconsistent and inconclusive findings. The only study in the whole review at low risk of bias in all domains found no evidence of a difference between the groups at 3, 6 or 12 months. Acupuncture yielded lower pain scores than NSAIDs in visual analogue scale (VAS) in 7 trials and higher pain relief in 4 trials; OR 4.99 (95% CI 2.82 to 8.82; 10 trials, n=611; low evidence). There was an improvement in pain relief from acupressure compared with sham or placebo control in 6 trials (low evidence).

Comment: The quality of evidence is downgraded by risk of bias (several shortcomings in most of the studies), by indirectness (diverse acupuncture practices), by imprecise results (limited study size for each comparison), and by potential publication bias.


1. Smith CA, Zhu X, He L, Song J. Acupuncture for primary dysmenorrhoea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2011 Jan 19;(1):CD007854 [Assessed as up-to-date: 1 September 2015].  [PMID:21249697]

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