Important to know: Chronic health conditions should be addressed under direct medical supervision of your GP or consultant, and acupuncture would be an adjunct or complement to usual care – we advise that you let you doctor know when you use this approach.
The British Acupuncture Council has looked at some recent trials in its research digest (see link below), including an RCT (n= 504 over 12 hospitals – multicentre trial; Lu et al, 2017), which found a positive trend in less urine leakage for the acupuncture group after 6 weeks for women with stress urinary incontinence.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 RCTs (n=794 in total) found acupuncture may decrease micturation (urination) episodes, night time urination and improve patients’ quality of life, although further research was warranted (Zhao et al, 2018)
For more information on the urinary system and acupuncture, see our dedicated page on Bladder Issues
About the research: It is worth noting that in research, randomised controlled studies (RCT) are the most reliable in terms of quality of evidence, with a systematic review or meta analysis of numerous studies being the best way of seeing the overall picture of the state of the evidence. Below we have a selection of the available research, which does include some larger RCTs, and reviews of the literature alongside smaller studies. The n= figure tells you how many people were participants in the study.
Liu, Z., Liu, Y., Xu, H., He, L., Chen, Y., Fu, L., Li, N., Lu, Y., Su, T., Sun, J. and Wang, J., 2017. Effect of electroacupuncture on urinary leakage among women with stress urinary incontinence: a randomized clinical trial. Jama, 317(24), pp.2493-2501.
Zhao, Y., Zhou, J., Mo, Q., Wang, Y., Yu, J. and Liu, Z., 2018. Acupuncture for adults with overactive bladder: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Medicine, 97(8).
British Acupuncture Council evidence based factsheet about Urinary Incontinence including specific research, trials and mechanisms of action for acupuncture in this condition.
British Acupuncture Council Research digest – Urinary Incontinence (just over halfway down the document)