A Cochrane database systematic review has concluded that current evidence supports the use of acupuncture to reduce menstrual pain.
Australian authors reviewed ten trials covering a total of 944 women receiving acupuncture or acupressure, to assess the efficacy and safety of acupuncture compared with placebo, no treatment, and conventional drugs eg painkillers or the oral contraceptive pill. They found that acupuncture gave an improvement in pain relief compared with placebo control or Chinese herbs. In two trials, acupuncture gave superior relief from other symptoms such as back pain, compared with standard medication. In another trial, quality of life was improved with acupuncture, compared with usual care. No significant adverse events were identified. The authors called for further, well-designed trials to look at acupuncture for period pain.
(Acupuncture for Primary Dysmenorrhoea. Cochrane Database Systematic Review, January 2011.)