Fibromyalgia syndrome and specifically, fibromyalgia symptoms, can have a major impact on a woman’s health. In fact, fibromyalgia affects more women than men. The effects of fibromyalgia syndrome on women’s health can be quite serious, as they can affect their reproductive health, including PMS and menopause, as well as their ability to acheive pregnancy. But why does FMS affect more women than men, and what kinds of effects can fibromyalgia have on a woman’s health?
Why Does Fibromyalgia Syndrome Affect More Women Than Men?
Fibromyalgia syndrome affects three to six million Americans, 85 to 90% of whom are women. Experts are unsure as to why FMS affects more women than it does men.
In addition, a recent study found that African-American women are more likely to suffer from fibromyalgia than their Caucasian counterparts. It is not yet understood why this is the case. Furthermore, while African-American women experience more severe widespread pain, Caucasian women experience a significantly increased level of pain.
The Effects of Fibromyalgia Syndrome on Women’s Health
There are a number of different effects that fibromyalgia can have on a woman’s health:
Fibromyalgia and Reproductive Health
Studies have identified a link between fibromyalgia and a woman’s reproductive health. In fact, women with fibromyalgia syndrome are more likely to have reproductive health-related diagnoses. For example, there is a higher incidence of dysmenorrhea and breast cysts among women who have FMS.
In addition, fibromyalgia can also impact a women’s sexuality, including her libido.
Fibromyalgia and Pregnancy
Women with fibromyalgia also have more severe pregnancy symptoms. A study found that pregnant women who had fibromyalgia experienced greater stiffness, pain and fatigue in comparison to pregnant women who did not have fibromyalgia syndrome.
However, oftentimes these symptoms are misdiagnosed as normal pregnancy symptoms.
Fibromyalgia and PMS
There is also a link between fibromyalgia syndrome and the severity of a woman’s premenstrual syndrome symptoms. Women with fibromyalgia have been found to have more serious PMS symptoms, including more severe headaches, insomnia, back pain and abdominal cramping.
Women with fibromyalgia also experience greater mental confusion and emotional upset during their menstrual cycle compared with women who do not have FMS.
Fibromyalgia and Menopause
The majority of women who have fibromyalgia syndrome are diagnosed between 40 and 55 years of age, which coincides with the average onset of menopause. Studies have shown that the relationship between fibromyalgia and menopause may be due to decreased levels of estrogen that occur during menopause. Decreased levels of cortisol may also be a contributing factor.
In addition, women in the post-menopausal stage may have more severe FMS-related symptoms compared with those with fibromyalgia who have not gone through menopause. Women in the post-menopausal stage produce 40% less estrogen compared with women who are pre-menopausal. Decreased estrogen levels are linked to common menopause symptoms such as depression, anxiety and sleep disorders, which are also common fibromyalgia symptoms.