A new, open-label randomized controlled study from Thailand, reports on the comparable efficacy of acupuncture vs. combined oral contraceptive (COC) pill in treating moderate-to-severe primary dysmenorrhea.
52 participants were randomly assigned to receive either acupuncture or COC for three menstrual cycles. Participants in the acupuncture group were needled in acupuncture points known to reduce pain three times a week for 2 weeks before the initiation of the next menstrual cycle. Mefenamic acid was prescribed as a recue analgesic drug with both groups. Outcomes were measured using maximal dysmenorrhea pain scores, days suffering from dysmenorrhea, amount of rescue analgesic used, and quality of life assessed by SF-36 questionnaire.
Both treatments had resulted in significant improvement over baselines in all outcomes. However, results showed that over the three treatment cycles, COC caused greater reduction in maximal pain scores, while improvements in the remaining outcomes were comparable by the end of the study. Acupuncture commonly caused minimal local side effects compared with COC (abdominal or vaginal bleeding, weight gain, nausea or vomiting and breast engorgement).
The data supports previous studies suggesting that acupuncture is a good alternative option for relieving dysmenorrhea, especially when COC is not a favorable choice – such as in women who desire to get pregnant or those who experience intolerable adverse events as well as in cases where there are other contraindications or precautions related to COC use.
Source: Sriprasert I et al " Efficacy of Acupuncture versus Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill in Treatment of Moderate-to-Severe Dysmenorrhea: A Randomized Controlled Trial" Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2015), Article ID 735690, http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2015/735690/
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