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Suffering from severe period pain? Here’s what you can do to ease it

A new research on acupuncture has found that the traditional Chinese treatment could significantly decrease period pain, even a year after treatment.

fitness Updated: Jul 20, 2017 12:48 IST
Acupuncture,Period,Menstrual cramps
Women who received manual acupuncture had at least 50% reduction in the severity of their period pain. (Shutterstock)

Menstrual pain has often been compared to a heart attack. But there is not much that is known to offer relief from it, even though some measures can help alleviate the pain to an extent. Now a new research carried out by researchers from Western Sydney University, Australia and the University of Auckland, New Zealand, looked at the effect of acupuncture on Primary Dysmenorrhea, more commonly known as period pain. Primary Dysmenorrhea is the most common gynecological complaint in menstruating women, with up to four in five women suffering from it at some stage.

The researchers recruited 74 women aged 18-45 years with suspected or confirmed primary dysmenorrhea and no known cause of secondary dysmenorrhea, which is related to an existing condition such as endometriosis. The women were all given individualised acupuncture treatments after being randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups: high frequency manual acupuncture, low frequency manual acupuncture, high frequency electro acupuncture and low frequency electro acupuncture.

Manual acupuncture involves manual stimulation of the needles, while electro acupuncture sessions uses an electrical pulse. The women received 12 treatments over three menstrual cycle, either once per week between periods in the low frequency groups or three times in the week before their period in the high frequency groups. All groups also received a treatment in the first 48 hours of their period. During the study participants were also asked to keep a menstrual diary.

The results showed that over half the women who received manual acupuncture had at least 50% reduction in the severity of their period pain over the course of the three-month treatment. The team also found less pain relief medication was needed when receiving manual acupuncture treatment compared to electro-acupuncture. Acupuncture treatment not only significantly reduced the intensity, duration and symptoms of period pain, but these improvements also lasted up to a year after treatment. Those who received a high frequency of treatment also benefited from even greater improvements in health-related quality of life, such as vitality, social function, and bodily pain.

Study leader Dr Mike Armour described the results as “promising,” commenting that, “Our pilot study found that using manual stimulation of the needles, rather than an electrical pulse, commonly used in many Chinese studies for period pain, resulted in reduced need for pain relieving medication and improvement in secondary symptoms such as headaches and nausea. The latter was unexpected and will be explored further in future, larger trials.” Dr Armour now believes that further larger trials may help establish guidelines and “dosages” for acupuncture in the treatment of period pain. The findings can be found published online in the international journal PLOS ONE.

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First Published: Jul 20, 2017 10:14 IST