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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 138537, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/138537
Research Article

Auricular Acupressure to Improve Menstrual Pain and Menstrual Distress and Heart Rate Variability for Primary Dysmenorrhea in Youth with Stress

1Department of Nursing, Chang Gung University of Sciences and Technology, Taoyuan, Taiwan
2School of Nursing, National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences, B402, No. 365 Minde Road, Taipei 11219, Taiwan
3Department of Dermatology, Kaohsiung Medical College Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
4School of Chinese Medicine-Acupuncture Science, China Medical University, 91 Hsueh-Shih Road, Taichung 40402, Taiwan

Received 8 October 2013; Revised 20 November 2013; Accepted 20 November 2013

Academic Editor: Gerhard Litscher

Copyright © 2013 Yu-Jen Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Background. Dysmenorrhea and accompanying symptoms can have a negative impact on academic achievement, physical activity and functioning, and quality of life. Unfortunately, stress increases the sensitivity and severity of pain, activating sympathetic responses while inhibiting parasympathetic responses. Objective. This study used objective, physiological measurements to evaluate the effects of auricular acupressure on menstrual pain and menstrual distress in young college students with primary dysmenorrhea across two menstrual cycles. The aim was to determine if significant differences could be detected between the intervention and follow-up phases after controlling life stress. Design. A one-group experimental research design was used, and repeated measurements and followups were done. Thirty-two women completed questionnaires and physiological parameters were measured. Results. Significant differences between the intervention and follow-up phases were found for high frequency (HF) and blood pressure on day 1 and no significant differences in menstrual pain and menstrual distress, heart rate variability, low frequency (LF), LF/HF ratio, or heart rate. Conclusion. Auricular acupressure effectively increases parasympathetic activity to maintain autonomic function homeostasis in young women with primary dysmenorrhea and may have a value in alleviating menstrual pain and menstrual distress in a high-stress life. Future studies should consider stress, stimulus dose of auricular acupressure, severity of menstrual pain, and a longitudinal research design.