Why Are Most Fibromyalgia Sufferers Female?


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic disorder that inflicts extreme fatigue, widespread pain, and tenderness throughout the body. It causes problems in both men and women, but women are more vulnerable to this condition than men. The National Institutes of Health discovered that about 90% of diagnosed fibromyalgia cases are in women. Many studies attempt to uncover this mystery. Why do women seem to get more affected by FM?

Here’s what we know so far. Women often sense more intense pain compared to men. What could be the cause of this? It is one of the many topics that spark the curiosity of most people, patients, doctors, and researchers alike. When the reason why comes up, these contributing factors often come into mind:

  • Hormones
  • Immune system differences
  • Genetics

On the other hand, some men are undiagnosed of fibromyalgia as they experience this disorder in a different way than women. Let’s take a more in-depth look into the details of FM and the ways women endure it more intensely than men.

More Agonizing Menstrual Periods

Women feel menstrual cramps at varying degrees of intensity. However, studies show that those with fibromyalgia tend to have extra painful periods than usual. Their pain may even increase depending on the menstrual cycle they are in. Women with fibromyalgia are frequently between the ages of 40 to 55. Those who are near their menopausal stage may experience their fibromyalgia symptoms get worse. 

Menopause with fibromyalgia intensifies the following: 

  • Anxiety
  • Soreness
  • Crankiness
  • Achiness

Women on their menopause stage have lower estrogen level as their body produces 40% less of it. Estrogen is accountable for the body’s serotonin levels, which regulate pain and mood. Take note that some symptoms of fibromyalgia are like the symptoms of perimenopause, which are:

  • Memory or thinking problems 
  • Tenderness
  • Pain
  • Lack of quality sleep
  • Depression

Women with fibromyalgia are also prone to have endometriosis. This occurs when tissue from the uterus develops in other parts of the pelvis. As a result, fibromyalgia can make endometriosis more excruciating. 

Location of Tender Points in Fibromyalgia

Tender points are on specific areas in the body (often found near the joints). These areas are painful when touched or pressed. In general, a fibromyalgia patient has 18 tender points. However, women testify of having more tender points than men do. Tender points may also show in the pelvic area. 

Tender points are in the following regions of the body:

  • Top of the chest
  • Back of the head
  • Front of the neck
  • Between the shoulder
  • Outside the elbows
  • Top and sides of the hips
  • Insides of the knees

If tenderness in the pelvic area occurs for more than six months, it can be chronic pelvic pain and dysfunction (CPPD). The pain it generates can start in the back and run down the thighs. 

Increased Bladder and Bowel Problems

More conditions may occur which are related to CPPD. These are irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and bladder problems. They can both increase your risk of developing internal cystitis or painful bladder syndrome (PBS). As many as 32 percents of people with IBS are prone also to have PBS, those with PBS can experience: 

  • An increased need to urinate often
  • Painful urination
  • Pressure on the bladder
  • Pain and cramps in the lower abdomen
  • Pain during intercourse

Comparing Fibromyalgia Tender Points in Women and Men

Fibromyalgia patients often express their pain as a dull or deep ache that begins in the muscles and then radiates to other parts of the body. Usually, a pins and needles sensation also comes with the pain and tenderness. 

Pain or tenderness should be present throughout the body to get a proper diagnosis. The fibromyalgia pain experienced in the tender points can be irregular. It can also be more intense from one day to the next, making it extremely challenging to do your normal daily activities. Both women and men experience FM pain in various ways. They both suffer a profound level of pain at one point. However, men, in general, seem to experience an overall lower level of pain compared to women. Women live through their FM pain for more prolonged periods than men. 

Increased Risk to Suffer Depression, Fatigue and Other Conditions

Studies confirm that women with fibromyalgia are more vulnerable to higher levels of depression than men. Restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea may also coexist with fibromyalgia. These can both make FM patients lose more time getting quality sleep. As a result, fatigue and depression are more likely to happen. Fibromyalgia can also hinder your ability to concentrate while increasing your sensitivity to pain.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms for Both Men and Women 

Both men and women can experience these fibromyalgia symptoms:

  • Headaches and migraines
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the jaw area
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Fibro fog or trouble remembering things and concentrating 
  • Sensitivity to bright lights, loud noises, and changes in temperature

A Must-Try Fibromyalgia Care 

Regardless of gender, fibromyalgia can make a profound impact on almost all aspects of your daily life. Therefore, working on how to reduce its life-affecting symptoms is a high priority. Here are some remedies that can help your body deal with the problems presented by fibromyalgia:

  • Change of diet
  • More water intake
  • Increase in protein and iodine consumption

Upper cervical chiropractic care focuses on taking care of the upper cervical spine of patients by making sure there are no misalignments in that area. A misalignment of either bone of the upper neck – the atlas (C1) or axis (C2) vertebrae – can worsen or even trigger the symptoms of FM. These two vertebrae have an essential function. They protect the brainstem. However, these bones are highly susceptible to misaligning due to their flexibility. When they misalign, the brainstem receives stress and pressure. Thus, it starts sending incorrect signals to the brain. As a result, the brain would interpret the signals as severe pain even when there is little or no pain at all. 

If you seek natural and long-lasting fibromyalgia relief, find the nearest upper cervical chiropractor in your area. Numerous patients have seen their fibromyalgia symptoms improve significantly, while others even see their fibromyalgia go into remission completely.

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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.