Fibromyalgia Often Worsened by Menopause
The average age for U.S. women entering menopause is 51. However, there have been accusations that this figure provides an inaccurate overview of the average age as most of the studies were done on white women of a certain economic status within the U.S. One thing that is certain is that there is that on average, there is a two to ten year range in which women can experience some of the symptoms of menopause. This period is known as perimenopause. It means that a woman is still getting cycles, though may go through phases without having a period. She is also experiencing symptoms of menopauses, such as hot-flashes. There has also been a lack of study on women outside of the U.S., as well as factors such as how athletics, early onset of autoimmune issues like Type 1 diabetes, and being a smoker or former smoker affect the onset of menopause.
Another issue: a lot of people assume they will begin menopause when their mothers began. However, suppose one’s mother died young, or had to have an hysterectomy at an early age. Or, suppose a woman never knew her biological mother or any of the other women in her biological family. Then there’s even less info to go on. And how does Fibromyalgia play into all this?
Do the Symptoms of Menopause and Fibromyalgia Affect Each Other?
Most medical professionals that believe Fibromyalgia exists—the numbers are increasing!—-feel that menopause affects Fibromyalgia more so than Fibromyalgia affects menopause. At least, that’s the current overall agreement.
The consensus is that the decrease in estrogen levels play into a worsening of Fibromyalgia symptoms. Some of the symptoms cross over anyway. Examples of crossover symptoms are insomnia and hot flashes. In menopause, hot flashes can occur at any time of day, but seem to occur more frequently at night. Temp fluctuations and insomnia are worse in Fibromyalgia patients, too. (Men included.) Add in the additional sleep and temp disruptions from menopause, and it’s easy to see why this phase can be such a hard time for Fibromyalgia women.
However, there’s another issue that can’t be ignored, even though it can’t really be explained. At least, not yet. That issue is that many women are diagnosed with Fibromyalgia during their menopausal, or perimenopause, years. Therefore, in some cases it’s almost impossible to know whether the cause of sleepless nights and other misery is Fibromyalgia, menopause, or a combination of both. Even if a woman was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia early in life, and has learned to manage her Fibro symptoms with some success, the sudden worsening of her Fibro symptoms by perimenopause or menopause may get her off track, making her feel as helpless as she did at diagnosis.
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Some people have suggested that menopause can be the cause of Fibromyalgia because women of this age so often receive the diagnosis during this time. Still, that wouldn’t explain the young women and men of all ages that suffer from Fibromyalgia. However, perhaps scientists will one day discover that menopause is but one several causes of Fibromyalgia.
How to Get Relief
Sometimes it really is a good idea to talk to the women in one’s family about their experiences with menopause. It may provide some insight into what to expect and do, but that’s not a certainty. Families don’t share every medical problem, or experience normal biological processes in the same way.
Other women allies can provide insight as well. Doctors should definitely be consulted.
Hormone treatment via estrogen is one of the major ways to treat menopause. However, taking estrogen isn’t for everyone. This decision must be made between a woman and her doctor, based on her health history, life style, and more.
Vaginal dryness can also be a symptom of menopause and perimenopause. A doctor should be able to make recommendations for this treatment, specifically a gynecologist. Fibromyalgia can also do a number on one’s sex drive because of pain and fatigue. There are ways to regain one’s ability to have sex without pain, as well as one’s sex drive. Any woman who is having problems with either should talk to her doctor no matter what her age, or what the cause.
Some women swear by sweeping dietary changes and avoiding heavy exercise for both Fibromyalgia and hormonal issues. Again, this evidence is mostly anecdotal. It will also depend, again, on one’s health history, life style, and more. However, there is no arguing with actual facts showing the benefits of regular, strenuous bursts of exercise as well as weights,plus a healthy diet. They may or may not be a cure all for pain or hormonal issues, but maintaining one’s circulation, strength, and weight can help ease pain and boost mental health.