Fibromyalgia in women
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes fatigue, generalized pain and tenderness throughout the body. The condition affects both sexes, although women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia. According to the National Institutes of Health, between 80 and 90% of people diagnosed are women.
Sometimes, men are misdiagnosed because they can describe the symptoms of fibromyalgia differently. Women usually report greater pain intensity than men. The reasons for this may be related to hormones, differences in the immune system or genes.
Still, the researchers don’t know why women are at a higher risk of developing fibromyalgia than men. The only way to test this is to rule out other possible conditions.
Read on to find out what the different symptoms of fibromyalgia may look like for women.
Stronger menstrual pain in women with fibromyalgia
Menstrual cramps, depending on the woman, can be mild or painful. In a report by the National Fibromyalgia Association, women with the disease have more painful periods than usual. Sometimes the pain fluctuates with the menstrual cycle.
Most women with fibromyalgia are also between 40 and 55 years old. The symptoms of fibromyalgia may be worse in postmenopausal or menopausal women.
Menopause with fibromyalgia can increase feelings of:
Your body produces 40% less estrogen after menopause. Estrogen is an important participant in the control of serotonin, which regulates pain and mood. Some symptoms of fibromyalgia may reflect symptoms of perimenopause or “near menopause”. These symptoms include:
- lack of quality sleep
- problems with memory or thinking about processes
Some women with fibromyalgia also have endometriosis. In this condition, the tissue of the uterus grows elsewhere in the pelvis. Fibromyalgia can also increase the discomfort caused by endometriosis. Contact your doctor if these symptoms do not go away after menopause.
Severe pain in fibromyalgia and tender points in women
The enhanced pain of fibromyalgia is often described as a deep or dull pain that begins in the muscles and radiates to other parts of the body. Some people also have a tingling sensation.
For a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, pain must affect all parts of the body, on both sides, including the upper and lower parts. The pain can come and go. It may be worse on some days than others. This can make it difficult to plan daily activities.
The interesting thing is that men and women experience fibromyalgia pain differently. Both report experiencing severe pain at some point. But in general, men report less pain than women. Women experience more “generalized pain” and a longer duration of pain. Fibromyalgia pain is usually stronger in women because estrogen decreases pain tolerance.
In addition to generalized pain, fibromyalgia causes tender points. These are specific areas around the body, usually around the joints that hurt when pressed or touched. The researchers identified 18 potential bidding points. On average, women report at least two tender points than men. These tender points are also more sensitive in women. You may experience pain in some or all of these places:
- back of the head
- area between shoulders
- front of the neck
- upper chest
- off the elbows
- upper and lateral hips
- inside the knees
Tender points may also appear around the pelvic area. Pain that lasts and lasts for more than six months is called chronic pelvic pain and dysfunction (DPCP). This pain can start in the back and go down the thighs.
Increased bladder pain and bowel problems in women
Fibromyalgia can worsen other COPD-related problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and bladder problems. Research shows that people with fibromyalgia and IBS are also more likely to develop interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome (PBS). About 32% of people with IBS also have PBS. Studies show that IBS is also more common in women. About 12 to 24 percent of women have it, while only 5 to 9 percent of men have IBS.
PBS and IBS can cause:
- pain or cramps in the lower abdomen
- pain during sex
- pain during urination
- bladder pressure
- increased need to urinate at all times of the day
The research suggests that PBS and IBS have causes similar to fibromyalgia, although the exact relationship is unknown.
More fatigue and depressive feelings in women
A study, published in Oxford University Press, looked at cases of depression in men and women with fibromyalgia. The researchers found that women with the disease reported significantly higher levels of depression than men.
Other conditions common to fibromyalgia can keep you awake at night. These include restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea. Lack of sleep can contribute to feelings of fatigue and depression. You may feel tired and having trouble concentrating during the day, even with a full night’s sleep. An incorrect amount of sleep can also increase your sensitivity to pain.
Other symptoms affecting women and men
Other common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
- sensitivity to temperature drops, loud noises and bright lights
- difficulty remembering and concentrating, also known as fibro fog
- headache, including migraine causing nausea and vomiting
- restless legs syndrome, a frightening and crawling sensation in the legs that takes you out of sleep
- jaw pain
When should you see a doctor?
Talk to your doctor if these symptoms interfere with your well-being or accompany other symptoms of fibromyalgia. There is no research to diagnose fibromyalgia. The symptoms can be similar to other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). But, unlike RA, fibromyalgia does not cause inflammation.
That’s why your doctor will do a physical exam and order several tests to rule out other conditions.
How is fibromyalgia diagnosed? »
Fibromyalgia is not fatal, but it can affect your quality of life. Early treatment can slow the progression of fibromyalgia.
Treatment for fibromyalgia
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but treatment is available. You can still control the pain and live a healthy and active life.
Some people can treat pain with OTC pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. Your doctor may prescribe specific medications to reduce pain and fatigue if over-the-counter medications do not work.
These medications include:
- duloxetina (Cymbalta)
- gabapentina (Neurontin, Gralise)
- pregabalina (Lyrica)
A study from a 1992 study found that people who took malic acid and magnesium reported significant improvement in muscle pain within 48 hours. The pain also came back in people who took a placebo pill after 48 hours. But no recent study has been conducted on this combination to treat fibromyalgia.
Read more about fibromyalgia treatments »
Lifestyle changes, exercise and home remedies are also effective in improving the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
|Menstrual cramps||For immediate relief, try applying heat to your stomach.|
|Pain level||Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you manage thoughts and behaviors that affect your pain levels.|
|Muscle aches||A regular exercise routine can help to reduce your pain level.|
|Spanning||Practice relaxation through deep breathing or meditation.|
|Depression||Try relaxation and yoga techniques, acupuncture or massage therapy.|
|Lack of sleep||Limit daytime naps, avoid caffeine and stimulating activities before bed.|
|IBS||Eat more fruits and vegetables and limit your intake of milk, caffeine, sugar and alcohol.|
Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program or alternative therapy. It is important to train and listen to your body to avoid further stress on your muscles.
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