Acupressure for primary dysmenorrhoea: a systematic review

Complement Ther Med. 2010 Feb;18(1):49-56. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2009.10.001. Epub 2009 Nov 27.


Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of acupressure for the symptomatic treatment of primary dysmenorrhoea from randomised controlled trials (RCTs).

Study design: Electronic databases including English, Korean, Japanese and Chinese databases were systematically searched for RCTs investigating acupressure for primary dysmenorrhoea up to July 2008 with no language restrictions. The methodological qualities of eligible studies were assessed using the criteria described in the Assessing risk of bias of the Cochrane Handbook edited by Higgins and Altman.

Results: Four RCTs comprising a total of 458 participants were systematically reviewed. Only one of the included trials described adequate methods of randomisation. All trials did not have clear descriptions of their method of allocation concealment. Two studies reported significant improvements in the severity of pain for acupressure compared with sham acupressure on non-acupoints. Acupressure reduced the pain and anxiety typical of dysmenorrhoea in a Taiwan study. The U.S. study using an acupressure device reported that the reduction of menstrual pain was significantly better in worst menstrual pain, menstrual pain symptom intensity and the consumption of pain medication, compared with conventional treatment. One study investigated adverse events and reported that there was no adverse event in acupressure treatment.

Conclusions: The available data from RCTs suggest that acupressure alleviates menstrual pain. These results were limited by the small number of trials. Well-designed RCTs with rigorous methods of randomisation, and adequately concealed allocation, are needed.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupressure* / standards
  • Dysmenorrhea / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome