A research collaboration from Australia and New Zealand investigating the effects of acupuncture for period pain, has shown that it can reduce pain intensity, and its effects are still apparent one year later. A total of 74 women aged 18 to 45 were randomly allocated to one of four treatment combinations: once per week or three times per week, acupuncture or electro-acupuncture. A total of 12 treatments were given over three menstrual cycles. All groups received a treatment in the first 2 days of a period.
After three months of treatment, acupuncture was found to reduce period pain intensity and duration, and this improvement was sustained at one year follow-up. Compared to the electro-acupuncture groups, the manual acupuncture patients required fewer painkillers, otherwise there was little difference between the groups. The authors identify a “lack of satisfaction in standard treatment, leading to an increase in self-care, with women commonly using complementary therapies to deal with their menstrual pain in addition to, or instead of, pharmaceutical pain relief, due to a lack of perceived effectiveness or a dislike of using analgesic medication”.