Is Fibromyalgia More Common in Women Than in Men?

Is Fibromyalgia More Common in Women Than in Men?
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
Q: I have heard somewhere on the internet that fibromyalgia affects more women than men. I want to know is this correct or not?
Expert Answer

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that usually causes sleep disturbances, exhaustion and pain in the tendons, muscles and ligaments.

The cause of the disease is not yet known but it is believed that genetic, psychological, environmental and neurobiological factors play a role in the cause of the disease.

Some researchers have shown that environmental factors and certain type of genes increase* the risk of developing fibromyalgia. The same genes have also been associated with several types of sometic syndrome and major depressive disorder.

Some researchers have linked the symptoms of fibromyalgia with certain sensitization. These researches show that patients of fibromyalgia have high sensitivity in brain to pain signal resulting to low pain threshold. With time the brain pain receptors are conditioned to notice pain leading to overreaction of the brain’s chemical neurotransmitters. This means that patients of fibromyalgia will experience more pain than people who don’t have fibromyalgia.

There is no single test that can be used to diagnose fibromyalgia and doctors usually depend on partial history, physical examination, and examination of the tender points.

In the US, fibromyalgia affects 3 to 6 percent of the total US population and is more common in women than men with the incidence ratio of female to male at 9:1 approximately.

Even though fibromyalgia is more common in women than men there are several factors that can put you at risk of the condition. These include:

  • Family History: There are high chances of getting fibromyalgia if one of your relatives is suffering or suffered from the disease.
  • Your Age: Fibromyalgia commonly affect people between the ages of 20-60 years but there are several cases of fibromyalgia in elderly people and children.
  • Stress: Some studies have shown that people who have had stressful past experiences are more likely to develop fibromyalgia though this has not been thoroughly researched on.
  • Other Rheumatic Diseases: Sufferers of other rheumatic diseases are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than those who don’t have rheumatic diseases. Examples of other rheumatic diseases include lupus, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Fibromyalgia Chart

Some studies have indicated that fibromyalgia is more common in women than men because of the low levels of serotonin in women than men. Low levels of serotonin increases* pain sensitivity.

Another theory which states that fibromyalgia is caused by biochemical changes in the body say that fibromyalgia may be related to menopause or hormonal changes in women.

Fibromyalgia has no cure* and its treatment is usually directed towards relieving the symptoms to minimize the discomfort. The common drugs that are commonly used to treat* fibromyalgia include analgesics such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and anti-seizure drugs and muscles relaxants. Other medications that can be used to ease sleeping disturbances include use of sleeping pills and anti-depressants. Acupuncture and massage therapy can also be helpful in relieving fibromyalgia.

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Expert Author : Beth Solomon (Consumer Health Digest)

Beth Solomon has been writing articles on health for more than two years with a concentration on pain management and men’s and women’s health and fitness. She has been a contributing editor to Consumer Health Digest since 2013.

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