Men's Health

6 Reasons Why It's Harder for Men to Be Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia

6 Reasons Why It's Harder for Men to Be Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia

According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, fibromyalgia is a disorder that predominantly affects women. In fact, 75 to 90 percent of those diagnosed with the condition are women. Because most diagnoses for fibromyalgia are found in women, some men get complacent about this disease, and often times they are overlooked.

A professor of medicine at the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine, Muhammad B. Yunus, MD, said that genetics and hormones play a role in causing the disorder. These genes that mainly cause the patients to be more sensitive to pain are related to gender.

A medical doctor and a fibromyalgia expert, as well as an associate professor of neurology, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington said that women have more tender points than men. Actually, women have 11 to 18, whereas men have only 6. This causes the men to have a different experience relating to pain than women. Also, it is believed that men release more endorphins that work effectively as pain-killers. Additionally, women have lower thresholds to pain as compared to men.

However, this doesn't mean that men cannot develop fibromyalgia as well. Approximately 10 percent of fibromyalgia cases are men, and the symptoms in men tend to be different than the common symptoms in women.

Why is it harder to diagnose fibromyalgia in men?

1. Social Pressure or Gender Stereotypes: 

The influence of the society on how men should act and behave plays a big impact on men generally. These reasons cause men to not see a doctor for their annual check-up. The society’s stigma on men compels them to be more than what they can actually give, even if it would mean their health.

Below are the top 3 definitions of maleness that men are pressured to conform to:

  • "Real men are strong": One of society’s most common expectations of men is they should be strong physically. They are expected to have big and strong muscles that can lift anything just in one scoop. They are expected to tolerate pain. Even movies like James Bond, Rambo, Tarzan, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and others project that men should opt to be strong and powerful. This is the top reason why it is hard for them to submit themselves into physical examination. As much as they can, they endure the pain and do not complain about anything, not even the fatigue they are feeling.
  • "Real men should provide for their family": Society expects men to be good providers for their family. Some even define maleness based on their bank accounts. If they can’t achieve this, they are automatically categorized differently. They are afraid that if they are diagnosed with the disorder, they might have to cut their working hours or lose their jobs in the process. Inevitably, they will feel like failures. The biggest risk of this is they tend to be in a suicidal depression.
  • "Real men know how to fix things": Society even implies men to have inborn ability to fix things that are broken. This leaves men to be forced to learn to tinker mechanical things starting at a young age. Being diagnosed with the disease means pain and tenderness in their muscles and bones. It can hinder them from tinkering anything, making them scared to confront the imminent truth about getting the disease. This is another reason why men don’t subject themselves to a physical examination.