Efficacy of Electro-Acupuncture, NSAIDS, and Oral Contraceptives in Treatment of Primary Dysmenorrhea

Efficacy of Electro-Acupuncture, NSAIDS, and Oral Contraceptives in Treatment of Primary Dysmenorrhea

Dysmenorrhea is defined as having pain with menstrual cycles affecting women of reproductive age. Medical doctors perform physical assessment to effectively diagnose and differentiate between primary or secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea affects majority of women worldwide and affects the quality of their lives, the pain could be severe enough to abstain them from work, school, or social events. Other accompanying signs and symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea could include nausea, vomiting, headaches, pain in low abdomen and/or low back. In western medicine, primary dysmenorrhea is treated through various means such as: NSAIDs and pain medications that could be obtained over the counter or by prescription through medical doctor; birth control pills; intrauterine devices; and other methods of therapies such as physical therapy, diet, exercise, and stress management. Traditional Chinese medicine treats primary dysmenorrhea with acupuncture techniques, electro-acupuncture, and Chinese herbs while addressing various lifestyle changes appropriate for the individual needs of patients. The purpose of this study was to identify the efficacy of electro-acupuncture in treating primary dysmenorrhea.

Methods: This scoping review of state of literature gathered total twelve previously performed randomized clinical trials regarding treatments applied for primary dysmenorrhea. Of the twelve RCTs, six RCTs utilized biomedical interventions studying effects of NSAIDs and contraceptives in treatment of primary dysmenorrhea and six RCTs utilized traditional Chinese medicine methods of electroacupuncture on selected acupoints to assess and analyze its efficacy in treatment of primary dysmenorrhea.

Results: The primary outcome was measured by Visual Analog Scale (VAS) that were subjectively reported by patients. All the RCTs showed decrease in VAS both in biomedical treatments as well as electro-acupuncture treatments.

Conclusion: Treatments with electro-acupuncture are effective in reducing pain due to primary dysmenorrhea without having long term clinical side effects. These finding may give us insight in educating our patients who suffer from primary dysmenorrhea to seek treatments with traditional Chinese medicine and electro-acupuncture to avoid long term use of pharmaceuticals to avoid associated adverse health risks and complications.

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