In 2018, a study showed that acupuncture led to a “significant reduction” in a number of variables tested in 60 women with primary dysmenorrhea. The group that received acupuncture treatments over the course of 90 days reported improvement in “pain, menstrual cramps, headache, dizziness, diarrhoea, faint, mood changes, tiredness, nausea, and vomiting” compared to the group that did not receive acupuncture.
Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
Studies show that acupuncture also works on the mind, which can help to alleviate the mood swings associated with PMS. A recent review article from Armour and Colleagues (2018) looked at five studies that used acupuncture in the treatment of PMS. They observed no adverse side effects from the treatment and found that acupuncture seemed to reduce both the physical and mood-related symptoms associated with PMS.
In 2018, a study carried out among a cohort of Australian women with endometriosis, found that participants receiving acupuncture over 8 weeks recorded a 48% drop in self recorded pain levels. The control group received no intervention and recorded a small increase in their pelvic pain over the same period. The researchers are recruiting for a much larger survey, we will look out for the results.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
A Swedish study showed that electro-acupuncture may help some women with PCOS to ovulate.
During the study, one group of women with polycystic ovary syndrome received acupuncture regularly for four months. A second group of women were provided with heart rate monitors and instructed to exercise at least three times a week. A control group was informed about the importance of exercise and a healthy diet, but was given no other specific instructions.
Research demonstrated that acupuncture reduced both depression and anxiety in women with PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome. Overall, the researchers note that acupuncture improved the health related quality of life for the patients. Scores for social functioning, energy and vitality, and general health improved for the patients receiving acupuncture. In addition, the control group did not show any improvements in anxiety and depression, however, the acupuncture group showed significant improvements.
A number of high quality large-scale trials carried out in recent years have consistently found acupuncture to be as least as effective at preventing the onset of migraine as prophylactic medication, but with no side effects. The positive impact of acupuncture is explained by several factors, releasing endorphins which change perceptions of pain, reducing inflammation by increasing blood flow and by affecting serotonin levels in the brain. Click here for a full summary.
Menopause and Perimenopause
A 2016 Californian study found that a course of acupuncture treatments was associated with significant reduction in menopausal symptoms as well as several quality of life measures, compared with no acupuncture, and that clinical benefit persisted for at least 6 months beyond the end of treatment.