Many women experience dysmenorrhea, or discomfort, including cramping, related to their menstrual cycle each month. Massage therapy has been found to relieve discomfort related to one’s cycle, and new research shows acupressure is effective at relieving menstrual-cycle related discomfort as well.

Researchers in Iran set out to determine if acupressure to a specific point affected the severity of dysmenorrhea. The point used in this study was the Sanyinjiao, or Spleen 6, point, located on the lower leg.

Eighty-six students participated in the study, with a study group receiving acupressure at Sanyinjiao point and the control receiving sham acupressure, according to a report published on The severity of dysmenorrhea was assessed at the following time periods: prior to the intervention, at 30 minutes, and at one, two and three hours following the intervention.

“The acupressure caused decline in the severity of dysmenorrhea immediately after intervention in both groups during their first menstrual cycle, although the difference was not significant,” the researchers noted. However, during the same cycle the severity of the dysmenorrhea decreased more in [the] study group than in the control group at 30 minutes, and at one, two and three hours following the intervention.

“During the second menstrual cycle, acupressure made dysmenorrhea reduced in both study and control groups; however, the decline was more salient among participants of the study group at all stages after the intervention,” the researchers said. “Acupressure at Sanyinjiao point can be an effective, feasible, cost-effective intervention for improving primary dysmenorrhea.”

“Effect of acupressure at the Sanyinjiao point on primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized controlled trial” is running in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. (2010 Nov;16(4):198-202. Epub 2010 May 20.)

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