Acupuncture Efficacy in Stress Incontinence, PCOS Examined

HealthDay News — Acupuncture received mixed reviews in 2 new studies — 1 focusing on stress incontinence and the other on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)-related infertility. The research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the incontinence study,1 researchers randomly assigned 504 women to 18 real or sham electroacupuncture sessions. The average age of the women was 55, and the half-hour appointments occurred over 6 weeks. At 6 weeks, women who received the real acupuncture had less urine leakage, the researchers found. These results persisted for another 24 weeks without treatment. Measuring incontinence over 72 hours, the researchers also found that nearly two-thirds who received real acupuncture had had a decrease of 50% or more in the amount of urine leakage.

The other trial2 involved 1000 women with PCOS. Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 groups: real acupuncture plus clomiphene; sham acupuncture plus clomiphene; real acupuncture plus a placebo drug; and sham acupuncture plus the placebo. The drug or placebo was taken for 5 days each menstrual cycle, for up to 4 cycles.

“The use of acupuncture with or without clomiphene, compared with control acupuncture and placebo, did not increase live births,” the authors write. “This finding does not support acupuncture as an infertility treatment in such women.”

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  1. Liu Z, Liu Y, Xu H, et al. Effect of electroacupuncture on urinary leakage among women with stress urinary incontinence. JAMA. 2017;317(24):2493-2501. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.7220
  2. Wu X-K, Serner Victorin E, Kuang H-Y, et al; for the PCOSAct Study Group. Effect of acupuncture and clomiphene in Chinese women with polycystic ovary syndrome. JAMA. 2017;317(24):2502-2514. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.7217
  3. Briggs JP, Shurtleeff D. Acupuncture and the complex connections between the mind and the body. JAMA. 2017;371(24):2489-2490. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.7214