If you’ve never had acupuncture it may be reassuring to know that an acupuncture needle is much thinner than your typical hypodermic needle used to give injections. The pain from hypodermic needles is mainly caused by the fact that they are wide in order to push a medication into your veins. Thankfully, acupuncture needles are very thin, slightly thicker than a strand of hair. In my clinics I use Korean and Japanese needles which are thinner and designed to be very pain-free.
Guided breathing is an effective technique which helps reduce any potential pain sensation.
Some people are more sensitive to needles than others. Women during their menstrual cycle tend to have more awareness and sensitivity to their bodies in general. Generally acupuncture isn’t painful however if there’s a lot of qi stagnation along a channel, there may be points along that channel that are more sensitive. This sensitivity will clear with treatment as acupuncture will normalize the qi flow.
Additionally, there are non-insertive techniques such as moxabustion that can achieve a similar effect and reduce sensitivity on specific points prior to the acupuncture.