Background: Women specific health complaints are common, and women are higher users of complementary therapies and medicines. Acupuncture is one modality used by women. The aim of this paper was to summarise the evidence from scientific trials and systematic reviews assessing the effectiveness of acupuncture to treat the most common women specific reproductive health complaints.
Methods: We conducted a search of the major databases PubMed, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Library from their inception to Sept 2009, to obtain English language texts of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and systematic reviews. The following English Australian search terms were used: acupuncture and period pain or dysmenorrhea, or premenstrual syndrome, or poly cystic ovarian syndrome/PCOS, or menstrual headache, or irregular periods/menstruation, or amenorrhea, or heavy menses/periods, or menorrhagia, or menopause, and randomised controlled trial and systematic review. Both authors extracted data and reviewed each trial and systematic review for methodological quality.
Results: Five systematic reviews were included, and six RCTs. The symptoms of the menopause and dysmenorrhea have been subject to greater clinical evaluation through RCTs, and the evidence summarised in systematic reviews, than any other reproductive health complaint. The evidence for acupuncture to treat dysmenorrhea and menopause remains unclear, due to small study populations and the presence of methodological bias. Acupuncture to treat PMS, PCOS and other menstrual related symptoms is under-studied, and the evidence for acupuncture to treat these conditions is frequently based on single studies.
Conclusion: Further research is needed.
Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.