Background Acupuncture as a therapy, and acupressure as self-treatment, are increasingly widely used for gynaecological conditions, and this study aims to review the scientific literature on their effectiveness.
Method A systematic review of controlled trials of acupuncture or acupressure for gynaecological conditions, published in a European language.
Synthesis No studies in mastalgia, menorrhagia, pelvic pain, premenstrual syndrome or vulvodynia met the inclusion criteria. Four studies, two of which were patient-blinded, of acupuncture or acupressure for dysmenorrhoea suggest that it may have an effect. Three studies of acupuncture given at various stages of infertility treatment are promising, but none was patient-blind. Two studies of acupuncture for menopausal symptoms showed no effect during the treatment period when compared with sham acupuncture, and a third study showed no effect on hypertension in postmenopausal women, though some improvement in symptoms was noted.
Conclusion In view of the small number of studies and their variable quality, doubt remains about the effectiveness of acupuncture for gynaecological conditions. Acupuncture and acupressure appear promising for dysmenorrhoea, and acupuncture for infertility, and further studies are justified.
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