Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and acupuncture for primary dysmenorrhoea

M L Proctor, C A Smith, C M Farquhar, R W Stones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

196 Citations (Scopus)


Dysmenorrhoea is the occurrence of painful menstrual cramps of the uterus. Medical therapy for dysmenorrhoea commonly consists of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or the oral contraceptive pill both of which work by reducing myometrial (uterine muscle) activity. However, these treatments are accompanied by a number of side effects, making an effective non-pharmacological method of treating dysmenorrhoea of potential value. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a treatment that has been shown to be effective for pain relief in a variety of conditions. Electrodes are placed on the skin and electric current applied at different pulse rates (frequencies) and intensities is used to stimulate these areas so as to provide pain relief. In dysmenorrhoea. TENS is thought to work by alteration of the body's ability to receive or perceive pain signals rather than by having a direct effect on the uterine contractions. Acupuncture may also be indicated as a useful, non-pharmacological method for treating dysmenorrhoea. Acupuncture is thought to excite receptors or nerve fibres which, through a complicated interaction with mediators such as serotonin and endorphins, blocks pain impulses. Acupuncture typically involves penetration of the skin by fine, solid metallic needles, which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)CD002123
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Acupuncture Therapy
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation


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