Background: Acupuncture is being used increasingly to treat gynecologic and obstetric disorders. Objective: The aim of this review was to determine the efficacy and safety of acupuncture for treating pelvic and low-back pain during pregnancy, pain during labor, primary dysmenorrhea, and menopausal symptoms. Design: This is an overview of systematic reviews (SRs) and randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Search strategy: A literature search was conducted, in July 2010, in MEDLINE,® the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, CENTRAL, the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, and Tripdatabase. Selection criteria: Published SRs and RCTs found during the literature search were included as well as RCTs that were published after completion of the literature search. Analysis: Data from SRs and RCTs that provided quantitative information were pooled. Results: Eight SRs and nine RCTs were included. One SR and 4 RCTs showed that acupuncture reduced pelvic and low-back pain, compared to physiotherapy or usual prenatal care. Results were contradictory when interventions were compared with sham acupuncture. With respect to reduction of pain during labor, two SRs showed no differences between acupuncture and sham acupuncture. None of the three SRs included on primary dysmenorrhea produced conclusive results. Two SRs of studies on menopausal symptoms showed no differences between acupuncture and sham acupuncture. A meta-analysis of three additional RCTs identified a favorable effect of acupuncture for reducing frequency and intensity of hot flashes. Adverse effects were mild and infrequent. Conclusions: Evidence for the efficacy of needle acupuncture for treating the disorders evaluated remains inconclusive. The intervention showed promising results for reducing pelvic and back pain during pregnancy and climacteric vasomotor symptoms, although well-designed studies are needed to make the results more precise and reliable. © Copyright 2013, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2013.
- Gynecology; Dysmenorrhea; Labor Pain
- Hot Flashes
- Systematic Review