It is a scientific and clinically-proven fact that more women are prone to chronic pain than men. According to U.S. Government statistics, females are 90% more likely to be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, a disorder that causes chronic widespread pain, than are men. Reasons as to why this occurs are not completely understood, but there are several hypotheses that may explain why the stereotype that “women are weak” exists.
- One hypothesis suggests that women are more likely to be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia because of their estrogen levels. Many believe that estrogen is present in a women’s body to protect her from the pain experienced when giving birth. However, estrogen levels tend to fluctuate during a woman’s period. This fluctuation increases the pain experienced by women with Fibromyalgia.
- Another possible reason men are less likely to have Fibro has to do with endorphins. Endorphins are substances in the brain that signal pain receptors, allowing men to cope with pain in a more effective manner. Conversely, research has shown that women generally have lower levels of naturally-occurring endorphins, so they may not be as well-equipped to manage physical pain.
- Testosterone levels could be yet another possible explanation. Men, inevitably, have higher testosterone levels compared to women. Patrick Woods, a Fibromyalgia researcher and chief medical advisor for the National Fibromyalgia Association stated that testosterone may actually be a big factor that protects men against pain. Although women have testosterone, it is in smaller quantity.
While these are all interesting ideas, it is important to note that Fibromyalgia is not exclusive to women. Many men overlook the disease, as it has been stereotyped towards women. If you are experiencing symptoms that include widespread pain, anxiety, fatigue, headaches, tender points, or sleeping problems, call our offices today to learn about your treatment options, including clinical research trials at 770-817-9200.
Angelo Sambunaris, M.D.