Women's Health

Understanding the Unique Menstrual Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Understanding the Unique Menstrual Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Women suffer from fibromyalgia more often than men, and usually, their pain becomes more severe during their menstrual period. Fibromyalgia affects menstrual periods significantly, especially since the part of the nervous system that regulates these periods are sensitive to bodily changes. 

Fibromyalgia can be extremely tough to deal with, however, women who suffer from fibromyalgia may face an extra difficulty during their menstrual period. Some of these symptoms are not only unique, they are also unusual.

Typically, women experience their first period when they're 13 years old. For some women it arrives earlier, but one common symptom that women experience is cramps. However, women with fibromyalgia have a range of symptoms that vary greatly, which can be more difficult to deal with.

According to many women with fibromyalgia, once their cycle begins, they tend to suffer from muscle tension throughout their whole body. Clenched fists and curled toes are some of the symptoms of women with fibromyalgia once their period arrives. Sweating and moaning involuntarily as an effect triggered by pain is also very common. Usually, painkillers are not capable of relieving pain, and often, sleeping is the only way to reduce this feeling.

This is a monthly reality for many women with fibromyalgia. In most cases, when they have to visit a nurse, women with fibromyalgia tend to say they only have cramps. Although, they are feeling something much worse than that. Most women take some time to realize they do not feel the same way during their period than their friends do. It is actually one of the ways women get diagnosed with fibromyalgia as well, especially those who start suffering from it at a very young age.

Unique symptoms and the common fear for internal exams

In most cases, women with fibromyalgia find it extremely difficult describing these unusual symptoms because they aren't able to compare them to anything else. This doesn't just confuse patients, it also confuses their doctors. If people knew more about fibromyalgia, it would be a lot easier to spot these symptoms. But, fibromyalgia remains an unknown condition--for the most part.

According to many teenagers who did not know they had fibromyalgia, they would usually visit the doctor feeling extremely uncomfortable about some of the symptoms they would get while on their period. Doctors even told them that they must learn to live with these symptoms. However, some people find relief when taking birth control pills since they can be prescribed to avoid difficulties for menstruation.

Women with fibromyalgia speaking out

When interviewing women with fibromyalgia, most of them coincide that comfort is the first topic they reach. Several of these women describe manic pain accompanied by a lot of sweat, clenching of hands and feet and a chronic muscle tension that is only relieved when sleeping. One thing all of these women have in common, however, is the fact that their doctors do not understand much about this condition still

Sadly, up until now, there are no clinical studies or researches focussing this problem present in women with fibromyalgia. There is a lot of investigation to be done in order to clarify what are the reasons behind these specific symptoms being present on women with fibromyalgia when they are on their period.

What is known so far is that people with fibromyalgia respond differently to the symptoms it triggers. So, for now, sharing the wide range of symptoms it triggers in different women is the first step that may lead to a study later on.

Tips that can be helpful to relieve pain during the menstrual period

To treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia during their menstrual period, you must take your medication consistently. Physicians do not recommend changing or discontinuing medication during your menstrual cycle. 

Medications and treatments for fibromyalgia include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, exercise and talk therapy. All of these can help women with painful symptoms before or during their menstrual cycle. Another possible route of treatment is contraceptive pills, since the pill is known to help decrease the severity of pain in patients. 

Getting enough rest before and during the menstrual period can also help with fibromyalgia symptoms. Other remedies that allow women to better control pain and other symptoms include:

  • Massages
  • Heating pads
  • Water therapy
  • Yoga and other gentle exercises

According to WebMD, "It is also important to avoid stressful situations during menstruation since stress can increase the pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia." Try to maintain your level of stress as much as possible. You can do this through meditation, breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques. 

If your symptoms continue to worsen the menstrual period it is important to talk to a doctor about treatment options. Because the symptoms of fibromyalgia vary, a more personalized approach may work better with treatment.

Does menopause worsen the pain of fibromyalgia?

Many women whose symptoms of fibromyalgia worsen during their menstrual periods experience a more stable pattern of symptoms of fibromyalgia after menopause, but the severity of their pain doesn't necessarily decrease. Fibromyalgia can get worse during menopause, and for the most part, their symptoms remain consistent.