Table 4

Studies examining the effect of treatment timing

Study (number of participants)InterventionComparator group(s)Outcome measureTreatment outcome for pain
Ma et al30
MA at Shiqizhui before menses
Treatment before menses at multiple points
Treatment during menses at Shiqizhui
Treatment during menses at multiple points
No treatment control
Both acupuncture groups using treatment during menses had significant reductions in VAS (p<0.01 for both)
Treatment before menses at multiple points produced the greatest reduction in pain compared with treating at the single point Shiqizhui (SMD −3.22, 95% CI −3.55 to −2.88, p<0.01). When treating during menses the single point was superior to multiple points (SMD −3.55, 95% CI −3.9 to −3.2, p<0.01)
Bu et al29
acupuncture (PA)
1/day for 3–7 days before menses
Acupuncture (A): 30 min 1/day for 3–7 days from 1st day of menses
Control group: untreated
Acupuncture given before menses (PA) was significantly better at reducing pain intensity (SMD −0.93, 95% CI −1.62 to −0.24, p<0.01) and pain duration (SMD −0.94, 95% CI −1.63 to −0.25, p<0.01) than acupuncture starting from the first day of menses (A). Both groups showed greater pain reduction than the control group (p< 0.05)
  • CI, confidence interval; CMSS, Cox menstrual symptom scale; MA, manual acupuncture; SMD, standardised mean difference; VAS, visual analogue scale.