How Does Fibromyalgia Affect Women Differently?

Fibromyalgia in women

Key points

  1. Fibromyalgia amplifies pain, including menstrual pain.
  2. Women with fibromyalgia report more intense pain and longer periods of pain than men.
  3. Fibromyalgia is often misdiagnosed because its symptoms are similar to other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
  4. Medicine and exercise can help you manage the pain so you can live a healthy, active life.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes fatigue, widespread pain, and tenderness throughout the body. The condition affects both sexes, although women are far more likely to develop fibromyalgia. Between 80 and 90 percent of people who get a diagnosis are women, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Sometimes men receive a misdiagnosis because they may describe fibromyalgia symptoms differently. Women often report higher pain intensity than men. The reasons behind this may be related to hormones, immune system differences, or genes.

Still, researchers aren’t sure why women have a higher risk for developing fibromyalgia than men. The only way to test for it is to rule out other possible conditions.

Read on to learn how different fibromyalgia symptoms can feel for women.


Stronger menstrual pain in women with fibromyalgia

Menstrual period cramps can be mild or painful, depending on the woman. In a report by the National Fibromyalgia Association, women with the condition have more painful periods than usual. Sometimes the pain fluctuates with their menstrual cycle.

Most women with fibromyalgia are also between the ages of 40 to 55 years old. Research suggests that fibromyalgia symptoms may feel worse in women who are post-menopausal or are experiencing menopause.

Menopause with fibromyalgia may increase feelings of:

  • crankiness
  • soreness
  • achiness
  • anxiety

Your body produces 40 percent less estrogen after menopause. Estrogen is a huge player in controlling serotonin, which controls pain and mood. Some fibromyalgia symptoms can mirror symptoms of perimenopause, or “around menopause.” These symptoms include:

  • pain
  • tenderness
  • lack of quality sleep
  • trouble with memory or thinking through processes
  • depression

Some women with fibromyalgia also have endometriosis. In this condition, tissue from the uterus grows in other parts of the pelvis. Fibromyalgia can also increase the discomfort that endometriosis causes. Talk to your doctor if these symptoms don’t go away after menopause. Continue…

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