Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine may help women with chronic pelvic pain

March 22, 2012, University of Southampton

(Medical Xpress) -- Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine may have a role to play in the treatment of health problems linked to chronic pelvic pain (CPP), say experts from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) in a new opinion paper published today.

Professor George Lewith, from the Complementary and Integrated Medicine Research Unit, University of Southampton, was the lead author of the paper entitled, Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine for women with .

The paper, constructed by the RCOG’s Scientific Advisory Committee, looks at the evidence relating to the use of some complementary and alternative medicine interventions in the treatment of diseases that are known to be associated with, and cause, CPP.

It is estimated that one in six women are affected by CPP which can be defined as intermittent or constant pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis for over six months and many will use some form of complementary medicine to help their symptoms.

Acupuncture is a safe intervention and involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body. Stimulation of these points is believed to induce a local and systemic healing response.

A literature search, by the paper’s authors, did not find any trials of acupuncture relating specifically to CPP; however, it did identify trials on closely related conditions such as dysmenorrhoea, pelvic inflammatory disease and IBS. These are all known to contribute to CPP.

Two small trials included in a recent Cochrane review found that acupuncture treatment significantly reduced menstrual symptoms compared to standard non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. However more research is needed in this area.

The opinion paper recommends that anyone considering acupuncture treatment should find a practitioner registered with one of the major acupuncture associations such as the British Acupuncture Council, the Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the British Medical Acupuncture Society.

Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) developed alongside acupuncture in China and other East Asian countries over 2000 years ago.

A Cochrane review of CHM for dysmenorrhoea included 39 randomised controlled trials and reported promising results for CHM when compared to the use of pharmaceutical drugs such as NSAIDs and the oral contraceptive pill. However there are limitations as some trials had poor methodological quality and small sample sizes.

The paper recommends that people only consult members of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine or the Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

In conclusion, the authors of the paper say that while there is no compelling evidence that acupuncture or CHM are effective in the treatment of CPP, they may have roles to play in the treatment of dysmenorrhoea, endometriosis, IBS and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Moreover, women should be aware of the provisional nature of the evidence supporting these alternative approaches.

Professor George Lewith says: “Some small trials suggest that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine may be beneficial for chronic pelvic pain. However, the current evidence lacks rigour and the available trials are poorly designed and inadequately reported so we can only consider this preliminary evidence.

“Many women use and Chinese for chronic so this area clearly requires further rigorous investigation and we would support further well-designed research for this problematic condition.”

More information: RCOG Green-top Guideline on Chronic Pelvic Pain: Initial Management: www.rcog.org.uk/womens-health/ … ic-pain-green-top-41

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Undiagnosed STIs can increase negative PMS symptoms

September 17, 2018
Women that have undiagnosed sexually transmitted infections may be at greater risk of experiencing negative premenstrual symptoms (PMS), according to new Oxford University research.

High dose folic acid does not prevent pre-eclampsia in high risk women

September 13, 2018
Taking high dose folic acid supplements in later pregnancy (beyond the first trimester) does not prevent pre-eclampsia in women at high risk for this condition, finds a randomised controlled trial published by The BMJ today.

Study finds air purifiers may benefit fetal growth

September 12, 2018
A new study led by SFU health sciences researchers Prabjit Barn and Ryan Allen reveals fetal growth may improve if pregnant women use portable air purifiers inside their homes.

Delayed childbearing is a growing source of multiple births, study shows

September 12, 2018
Starting in the 1980s, the number of multiple births—twins, triplets, quadruplets and quintuplets—steadily increased from about 20 sets per 1,000 live births to almost 35 sets per 1,000 live births in the 2010s.

Transforming pregnancy research with a smartphone app

September 5, 2018
For years, pregnant women have been underrepresented in biomedical research. Current treatments, interventions and guidelines do a poor job of taking into consideration the diverse characteristics of all pregnant women.

For women undergoing IVF, is fresh or frozen embryo transfer best?

August 21, 2018
The world's first baby born via in-vitro fertilization turned 40 years old this summer. Still, after four decades, IVF is a relatively new field with ongoing debate on how to get the best results for families who have placed ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.