Going through menopause can be a difficult experience, especially so if you are suffering from chronic pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia at the same time. But if you have not been affected by fibromyalgia in the past, or if your symptoms were not so severe, you might be wondering whether menopause could be making your symptoms worse.
Can perimenopause also cause fibromyalgia symptoms? How can you help fibromyalgia symptoms during menopause? How does menopause affect fibromyalgia?
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The Link Between Menopause And Fibromyalgia
First off, what are the connections between menopause and fibromyalgia?
Although people of any age and background can be affected by fibromyalgia, the condition is much more common for women and is more often diagnosed at the ages of 30 to 50.
Since menopause usually begins around the ages of 45 to 55, it may not be surprising that women going through menopause are at a much higher risk of developing various types of chronic pain including fibromyalgia. Additionally, many women who already have fibromyalgia experience worse symptoms during this period.
The exact reasons for this are not fully understood, but it likely has something to do with hormonal changes. Fibromyalgia is believed to be possibly caused by changes to the way in which the nervous system processes pain signals, and hormones play an important part in this process.
So during menopause, it is possible that the lowered levels of estrogen could also affect the processing of pain messages. As a result, this and the other changes that the body goes through during menopause could cause or contribute to making you far more sensitive to fibromyalgia pain.
The symptoms that are often experienced during and just before menopause may also resemble some of the common fibromyalgia pain types. This could include aches, pains and stiff joints, problems with concentration and memory, and severe sleep difficulties. This means that the symptoms experienced during menopause and the symptoms of fibromyalgia could combine to be even more severe.
You should also keep the similarity of the symptoms in mind if you are not sure whether you are experiencing possible fibromyalgia symptoms or the beginning of menopause. You should speak to your doctor to be certain and to receive support with your symptoms.
How Menopause Can Make Fibromyalgia Symptoms Worse
Some of the symptoms experienced during menopause could contribute to and worsen chronic pain. The sleep difficulties that are often experienced during menopause are one example.
Not getting good enough sleep is a major risk factor for developing chronic pain in the first place, and for those who are already affected by it, poor sleep can make the pain even more severe. This in turn makes it even harder to get proper sleep, creating a vicious cycle.
Another factor is that people going through menopause often experience low mood, anxiety, or depressive symptoms. Similar to disturbed sleep, this is associated with a magnified perception of pain and can lead to a cycle where these symptoms reinforce each other.
Increased stress creates similar problems, and as previously mentioned, the aches and pains that often come during menopause can be exacerbated by fibromyalgia.
What About Perimenopause And Fibromyalgia?
Perimenopause is the transitional period in which the body’s production of estrogen starts to slow down, and when the first symptoms of menopause begin to show. It can begin months or even years before menopause itself does.
Some of the symptoms that can come with perimenopause, such as pain and tenderness, concentration problems, or sleep issues, can be unexpected for many people and are very similar to the symptoms of menopause itself. As a result, if you have fibromyalgia it may be easy for you not to realize that perimenopause has begun. If your symptoms have been particularly troubling lately and you think that may be the case, you should discuss it with your doctor.
Self-Care Tips For Menopause And Fibromyalgia Symptoms
- Talk with your doctor if any symptoms are troubling you. It is sadly very common for people not to discuss problems related to menopause with their doctor, leaving them with no choice but to deal with them on their own. Although your symptoms might not fully go away even with treatment, having professional medical support will surely help you find solutions to your menopause symptoms, chronic pain, and any other problems you may be having.
- Try to improve your sleep. Your symptoms may make sleep more difficult, but getting good sleep helps you to manage them and is important for your health. To help make it easier to get to sleep and sleep well, try to keep a regular sleep schedule, try not to consume things like caffeine and alcohol too close to bedtime, and also avoid device screens that emit blue light before you go to bed. You can also try sleeping with a weighted blanket for fibromyalgia, this can help improve your sleep and also help with fibromyalgia pain relief.
- Try to do regular exercise and keep to a healthy diet. Exercise is considered one of the most important ways to manage chronic pain, and getting good exercise is also very good for relieving stress and for improving your sleep. Eating a good diet is also important, and doing both of these will help to relieve some of the symptoms experienced from menopause as well.
- Find ways to relieve stress and anxiety. Excessive stress is well known to make chronic pain more severe. Good ways to manage and reduce stress could be doing relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation, spending time and talking with loved ones, and trying not to push yourself too much harder than you need to at work or on other projects, for example. Weighted blankets for adults are also a very popular natural way to reduce stress and anxiety. This, coupled with their other therapeutic effects, like pain relief, makes them an ideal companion for patients with fibromyalgia. You can learn more about how weighted blankets work in our dedicated article.
If you think you may be going through menopause and fibromyalgia at the same time but are not sure, the most important thing to do is to talk to your doctor so they can find out for sure, and then help you with solutions and treatment. Menopause can be a difficult period, especially with the added stresses of chronic pain, but you should not have to go through it alone.