Acupuncture | Women's Health | The Research

Women's Health the research

The following is a list of the current evidence for Women’s health and gynaecological conditions as listed in The Acupuncture Evidence Project. As part of responsible advertising in a systematic review of randomised controlled clinical trials is the highest level of evidence and should be relied on if available. For many conditions research dos not meet these strict guidelines, deemed to old or there is no actual research. Acupuncture has been practised for thousands of years; research into its effectiveness and cost effectiveness is in its relative infancy.


Trials listed below were assessed using the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) levels of evidence, with risk of bias assessed using the Cochrane GRADE system.  Results have been tabulated to indicate not just the current state of the evidence, but to indicate how the quality and quantity of evidence has changed from 2005 to 2016.


Acupuncture IVF support


  • Qian 2015 (RR of 30 RCT’s & MA): Acupuncture improve clinical pregnancy rates in women undergoing IVF. Optimal positive effects were seen when Acupuncture was used during controlled ovarian hyper stimulation (1)
  • Manheimer 2013 (SR & MA of 16 RCT): Insufficient evidence (2)
  • Jo 2017 (SR of 4 RCT’s & MA): Acupuncture may increase the clinical pregnancy rate and ongoing pregnancy rates and decrease ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome in women with PCOS undergoing IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (3)
  • Cheong 2013 (Cochrane SR of 20 RTC’s): No evidence that Acupuncture improves live birth or pregnancy rates in ART regardless of whether performed around the time of oocyte retrieval or embryo transfer (4)
  • Shen 2015 (SR & MA): Acupuncture ineffective when used only on the day of oocyte retrieval but effective when used at follicle phase and 25 mins before and after embryo transfer (5).




  • Chen et al, 2013 (MA of 3 acupuncture and 4 acupressure RCT’s): Acupuncture is effective and acupressure may be effective for pain relief; acupuncture trials had low to moderate risk of bias; acupressure trials had a high risk of bias (6)
  • Xu 2014 (MA of 20 RCT’s of acupoint stimulation): Acupoint stimulation superior to controls for pain relief; low to moderate quality evidence (7)
  • Abaraogu 2015 (SR of 8 RCT’s and MA of 4 RCT’s): Acupuncture and acupressure vs placebo, waitlist or medication reduced pain intensity, while acupuncture also improved physical and mental aspects of QoL; moderate quality evidence (8)
  • Smith 2016 (Cochrane update): Insufficient evidence; low to very low quality evidence (9)
  • Kim 2012: Acupuncture is cost effective for dysmenorrhea, allergic rhinitis, osteoarthritis and headache (10)


Menopausal Hot Flushes


  • Chiu 2015 (Ma of 12 studies; 2 high quality, 8 moderate and 2 low); Acupuncture improves hot flush frequency and severity, menopause-related symptoms, and QoL (vasomotor domain) in natural menopause (11)
  • Selva Ovid 2013 (Review of 8 SR’s and 9 RCT’s); Promising results; low quality evidence (12)
  • Dodin 2013 (Cochrane SR of 16 RCt’s); Acupuncture superor to no treatment or wait list, Acupuncture superior to sham in reducing severity but not frequency, Acupuncture inferior to hormone therapy (13)
  • Chen 2016 (SR of 12 RCT’s); Seems to be effective (14)


Perimenopausal and Postmenopausal Sleep disturbance


  • Chiu 2016 (SR of 34 RCT’s; 4 high quality); Significant reduction in sleep disturbance which appears to be associated with changes in serum estradiol, FSH, and LH; Acupuncture recommended as an adjunct therapy in improving sleep disturbances in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women (15)
  • Bezerra 2015 (SR of 7 RCT’s; 4 high quality; no studies with high risk bias); Improved sleep quality; limited evidence; moderate to high quality evidence (16)


Back Pain in Pregnancy


  • Selva Olid 2013 (Review of 8 SRs and 9 RCTs): Promising results; low quality evidence (17)
  • Close 2014 (SR of 8 RCTs on CAM; 2 acupuncture RCTs with low risk of bias): Clinically important and statistically significant changes (18)
  • Liddle 2015 (Cochrane SR: Comparison of interventions 26 RCTs – 7 acupuncture RCTs): Moderate quality evidence showed that acupuncture or exercise, tailored to the stage of pregnancy, significantly reduced evening pelvic or lumbo-pelvic pain. Acupuncture superior to exercise for reducing evening pelvic pain; Both acupuncture and exercise were superior to usual care; Insufficient evidence (19)


Induction of Labour


  • Smith 2013 (Cochrane SR of 14 RCTs): Insufficient evidence; included studies ranged from high to low quality evidence (18)
  • Mollart 2015 (SR of 7 RCTS): Acupuncture may reduce the duration of labour especially the first stage; insufficient evidence (19)


Labour Pain


  • Levett 2014 (Critical narrative review of SRs): Acupuncture & acupressure promising – Conflicting results due to heterogeneity in study designs, research questions, treatment protocols and outcomes measures (20)


Nausea in Pregnancy


  • Matthews 2015 (Cochrane SR of interventions for nausea in pregnancy; 2 RCTs on acupuncture): No significant difference between real and sham acupuncture; low quality evidence (21)


Hyperemesis in Pregnancy


  • Boelig 2016 (SR of interventions – 1 acupuncture study): Insufficient evidence to identify clear differences between acupuncture and metoclopramide; very low quality evidence (22)


Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome


  • Ren 2014 (SR & MA of 31 studies): Acupuncture may be effective; low quality evidence (23)
  • Lim 2016 (Cochrane SR of 5 RCTs): Insufficient evidence; low to very low quality evidence (24)


Uterine Fibroids


  • Dalton-Brewer 2016 (Narrative review of CAM): Acupuncture may be a treatment option as part of a CAM treatment approach (25)



  1. Qian Y, Via XR, Ochin H, Huang C, Gao C, Gao Y. (2016). Therapeutic effect of Acupuncture on the outcomes of in-vitro fertilisation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Gyneol Obstet Invest; 79 (1): 1-12
  2. Manheimer E, Van De Windr D, Cheng K, Stafford K, Liu J, Et Al. (2013). The effects of acupuncture on rates of clinical pregnancy amount women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Hum Reprod Update Nov-Dec; 19 (6): 696-713
  3. Jo J, Lee YJ (2017). Effectiveness of Acupuncture in women with polycystic ovaries undergoing in-vitro fertilisation or intracytoplasmic sperm injection: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acupunct Med. Jan 11
  4. Cheong YC, Dix D, Hung Yu Ng E, Ledger WL, Frquhar C (2013). Acupuncture and assisted reproductive technology. Cochrane Database cyst rev. (7): Cd006920
  5. Shen C, Wu M, Shu D, Zhao X, Gao Y. (2015). The role of Acupuncture in vitro fertilisation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Gynecol Obstet Invest. 79 (1):1-12
  6. Chen HM, Chen HC (2004). Effects of acupressure at the sanyinjiao point on primary dysmenorrhea, J Adv Nurs. Nov; 48 (4): 380-7
  7. Xu T, Hui L, Juan YL, Min SG, Hua WT. (2014). Effects of moxibustion or acupoint therapy for the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea: a meta-anylsis. Altern There Health Med. July-Aug; 20 (4): 33-42
  8. Abaraogu UO, Tabansi-Ochugu CS. (2015) As acupressure decreases pain, Acupuncture may improve some quality of life for women with primary dysmenorrhea: a systematic review with meta-anylsis. J Acupunct Meridian Stud. Oct; 8 (5): 220-8
  9. Smith CA, Armour M, Zhu X, Li X, Lu ZY, Song J. (2016) Acupuncture for dysmenorrhea. Cochrane database cyst rev. 4:Cd007854
  10. Kim SY, Lee H, Chai Y, Park HJ. (2012) A systematic review of cost-effectiveness analysis alongside random controlled trials of acupuncture. Acupunct Med. Dec; 30 (4): 273-85
  11. Chiu HY, Pan CH, Shyu YK, Han BC, Tsai PS (2015). Effects of Acupuncture on Menopause and quality of life in women in natural menopause: a meta-analysis of randomized control trials. Menopause Feb 22 (2): 234-44
  12. Selva Ovid A, Martinex Zapata MJ, Sola I, Stojanovic Z, Uriona Tuma SM, Bonfill Corp X (2013). Efficacy and safety of Needle Acupuncture for treating Gyncologic and obstetric disorders: An overview. Med Acupunct. Dec 1; 25 (6): 386-97
  13. Dodin S, Blanchet C, Marc I, Ernst E, Wu T, Vailancourt C, et al (2013). Acupuncture for Menopause hot flushes. Cochrane database system Rev. (7): Cd007410
  14. Chen YP, Liu T, Peng YY, Wang YP, Chen H, Fan YF, et al (2016). Acupuncture for women with hot flushes in women with breast cancer: A systematic review. J Cancer Res Ther. Apr-Jun; 12 (2) 535-44
  15. Chiu HY, Hsieh Yj, Tsai Ps. (2015). Acupuncture to reduce sleep disturbances in perimenopausal and post menopausal women; A systematic review and meta-anylsis. Obstet Gynecol. Mar; 127 (3) 507-15
  16. Bezerra Ag, Pires GN, Anderson ML, Tufik S, Hachul H (2015). Acupuncture to treat sleep disorders in postmenopausal women; A systematic review. Evidence Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015; 563236
  17. Selvid Olid A, Martinez Zapata MJ, Sola I, Stojanovic Z, Uriona Tuma SM, Bonfill Corp X (2013). Efficacy and safety of Needle Acupuncture for treating Gyncologic and obstetric disorders: An overview. Med Acupunct. Dec 1; 25 (6): 386-97
  18. Close C, Sinclair M, Liddle SD, Madden E, McCullough JE, Hughes C. A systematic review investigating the effectiveness of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for the management of low back and/or pelvic pain (LBPP) in pregnancy. J Adv Nurs. 2014 Aug;70(8):1702-16
  19. Liddle SD, Pennick V. Interventions for preventing and treating low-back and pelvic pain during pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015(9):Cd001139.