Fibromyalgia: A Different, But Similar Experience for Men and Women


While both men and women can get fibromyalgia, the overwhelming majority of patients are female. The reason for this is unknown, although we will take a look at a few theories later in our article. First, we will consider the symptoms of fibromyalgia and the body systems impacted by this chronic health condition. Then, we will look at possible reasons 90% of those living with fibromyalgia are women. We will also consider how this discrepancy affects men living with fibromyalgia. Finally, we will address a natural therapy that has been effective in case studies

Fibromyalgia Symptoms and the Body Systems that Experience the Impact 

While fibromyalgia is well-known for causing widespread pain in the body (as well as at 18 tender points), the impact of this syndrome is far more significant. Let’s take a closer look at the affected body systems and the symptoms that a patient may have when dealing with this condition. 

  • Central nervous system – Central nervous system symptoms include the pain of fibromyalgia since researchers believe that central sensitization (a condition that increases how pain sensations are experienced) plays a role. Additionally, there can be sensory sensitivities (especially to touch) as well as numbness and tingling (particularly in the hands and feet).
  • Digestive tract – Irritable bowel syndrome is common among fibromyalgia patients. You may experience diarrhea, constipation, or an alternating of the two. Other symptoms include pain, bloating, cramping, and nausea. 
  • Endocrine System – Thanks to imbalances of various hormones in the body and brain, a patient may experience sleep disturbances as well as fatigue (regardless of how well they sleep). Anxiety and depression are also considered associated conditions since prevalence is higher among fibromyalgia patients than in the general public.  
  • Respiratory system – Another associated condition seems to be sleep apnea. This can affect sleep, increase fatigue, and lead to many other health problems if not addressed. Also, lack of sleep can contribute to increased pain levels. 
  • Reproduction – Women living with fibromyalgia may experience more pain during their period. Both men and women may experience painful intercourse. 
  • Urinary tract – You may experience pain in the bladder, pain during urination, or an increased frequency in how often you urinate. 

As you can see, fibromyalgia is often debilitating for far more reasons than just because it causes pain. So why does the condition seem to target women? Here are some theories.

Theories Regarding the Higher Incidence of Fibromyalgia Among Women 

No one knows for sure why 90% of fibromyalgia patients are female. It could be something as simple as men not going to the doctor, being unwilling to spend years trying to get a diagnosis, or being more likely to hide a health condition due to social stigma. On the other hand, here are three theories researchers have posited that may otherwise explain the discrepancy:

  • Endorphin levels – Endorphins naturally reduce how much pain a person feels. Some researchers believe that the male body releases endorphins more readily and that this leads to lower pain levels in men. 
  • Female hormones – Women seem to experience the worst symptoms at times of the month and at times in life when estrogen levels are low. This may be because estrogen can actually help increase pain tolerance. Natural fluctuations of female hormones may make women more susceptible to chronic pain conditions. 
  • Male hormones – Testosterone, the male hormone, may also help protect men from experiencing pain. 

Again, there is little scientific research to back up these theories. In reality, it is more important to know how to manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia than to understand why it affects more women than men. It is also vital to get men with fibromyalgia the help that they need to deal with the additional stigma of having what some people will ignorantly call a “woman’s disease.” 

The Additional Stigma of Fibromyalgia for Men 

Anyone with fibromyalgia is going to have to deal with naysayers who claim that the condition is “all in your head,” no matter how real this syndrome genuinely is. Therefore, it seems there will always be stigma linked to fibromyalgia and other conditions that don’t meet up with the traditional definition of a disease. 

For men, society also seems to increase the stigma. This comes from the idea that most people with fibromyalgia are women. It also comes from how debilitating the condition can be – since it may lead to disability and an inability to hold down a regular job. Additionally, a man may struggle to find a mate, perhaps being viewed as weak by the opposite sex. Or he may be picked on by his friends for not being able to keep up.

Whether male or female, what can you do to cope with fibromyalgia naturally? Upper cervical specific chiropractic care may help. 

Why Upper Cervical Chiropractic May Benefit Fibromyalgia Patients 

Upper cervical chiropractic focuses on the top two bones in the neck, the C1 and C2 vertebrae. The unique location of these bones can have a significant impact on the central nervous system. For example, a misaligned C1 can put pressure on the brainstem. Cervical misalignments can also affect blood flow to the brain. Therefore, you need to have these misalignments corrected if you live with a chronic health condition like fibromyalgia.

To learn more, contact an upper cervical practitioner in your area. You can find a preferred doctor by using the search feature on this website. It may be just what you need to improve your health and quality of life.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.