Acupuncture for endometriosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Integr Med Res. 2023 Dec;12(4):101003. doi: 10.1016/j.imr.2023.101003. Epub 2023 Oct 28.


Background: Current endometriosis treatments do not always provide symptom relief, with many using complementary approaches. This study examined the effectiveness of acupuncture on pain and quality of life in people with endometriosis.

Methods: Searches were conducted on Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), PubMed, Allied and Complementary Medicine Database (AMED) and Embase (Ovid), Epistemonikos, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL; EBSCOhost) on 20 March 2023. Trials were included if they used penetrating acupuncture. Risk of bias was assessed with Cochrane RoB2 and GRADE for overall evidence certainty. Random-effects meta-analyses were undertaken, using Hedges' g or mean difference (MD) both with 95 % confidence intervals (CI).

Results: Six studies involving a total of 331 participants were included. Evidence for benefit was found for acupuncture compared to non-specific acupuncture on overall pelvic pain (g = 1.54, 95 % CI 0.92 to 2.16, 3 RCTs, n = 231, low certainty evidence, p<0.001), menstrual pain (g = 1.67, 95 % CI 1.23 to 2.12, 1 RCT, n = 106, moderate certainty evidence, p<0.001), and non-specified pelvic pain (MD -2.77, 95 % CI 2.15 to 3.38, 2 RCTs, n = 125, low certainty evidence, p<0.001), and compared to usual care on menstrual pain (g = 0.9, 95 % CI 0.15 to 1.64, 1 RCT, n = 19, very low certainty evidence, p = 0.02). Most studies reported low rates of adverse events.

Conclusion: Acupuncture treatment for endometriosis demonstrated clinically relevant improvements in pelvic pain and should be considered as a potential treatment intervention.

Study registration: PROSPERO ID: CRD42023408700.

Keywords: Abdominal pain; Acupuncture; Endometriosis; Quality of life.

Publication types

  • Review