The Special Challenges of Men Facing Fibromyalgia
A lot of people think of fibromyalgia as a disease that affects women, but the reality is fibromyalgia symptoms in men can be just as severe. And the problem many men face is that they often have a harder time than women in getting diagnosed. That’s because the idea that fibromyalgia is a disorder that affects women is so widespread that doctors don’t always recognize fibromyalgia symptoms in men. So how do the symptoms affect men differently than women? And how do you know if you have fibromyalgia as a man?
Fibromyalgia Symptoms In Men
First, let’s talk about why some people think that fibromyalgia is a disease that only affects women. That’s untrue and often damaging to men who suffer from fibromyalgia, but the facts show why people might think that.
Around sixty to eighty percent of fibromyalgia patients are women (depending on the criteria used). While part of that may be to the fact that men have a tough time getting diagnosed or seeking treatment, it does suggest that women are affected more often than men are. Secondly, men seem to be affected less severely than women with fibromyalgia. So fibromyalgia symptoms in men are often not as bad as they are for women, though for many men they can be.
But while men don’t always report symptoms as severe as women, their symptoms are generally the same:
- Pain in tender points. There are eighteen points of pain associated with fibromyalgia. Usually, these are near the joints and present on both sides of the body. You can get a full list of them here. And a doctor will use these points to diagnose you.
- Mental Fog. “Fibro-fog,” as it’s commonly known, is a condition where people with fibromyalgia have a hard time remembering basic things or thinking clearly. It is often as debilitating as the pain when it comes to living a normal life. If you feel like you just have a hard time thinking clearly, it could easily be a sign of fibromyalgia.
- Extreme Fatigue. One of the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia, extreme fatigue means that fibromyalgia patients are often tired no matter how much sleep they get. In addition, people with fibro have a difficult time getting the sleep they need in the first place.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBS is another symptom of fibromyalgia. Essentially, it’s a disorder that causes frequent, painful bowel movements. And for reasons we don’t fully understand, it seems to be associated with fibromyalgia in both men and women.
So essentially, fibromyalgia symptoms in men are the same as the symptoms in women, and if you find that you are suffering from these symptoms, you should see a doctor who has experience in fibromyalgia in order to get treatment.
And when you see your doctor, point out that you think you might have fibromyalgia. Your doctor may not have considered it. Just remember that it’s ok to look for a second opinion, but you should respect the judgement of medical professionals.
How To Cope With Fibromyalgia As A Man
One of the most difficult things about having fibromyalgia as a man is that it can be hard to find a good support network. Because fibro usually affects women, most support forums online or in your community are composed mostly of women.
While there is nothing wrong with joining a support community that is largely women, as guys, we know that we often want to turn to other men for support.
That means that as a man with fibromyalgia, you might have to go out of your way a bit to find a community that you fit into well when you are looking for support with your disease. Here is an online resource geared towards men with fibromyalgia to get started. And some googling should help you find a group in your area if you need it.
It’s also important that you be open about your feelings when you are dealing with a disease like fibromyalgia. Men tend to keep their feelings inside and hesitate to ask for help, as though it’s a sign of weakness. And when it comes to fibromyalgia that makes getting support difficult.
Just remember that there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to looking for help with dealing with your fibromyalgia. And there is no reason you should have to deal with such a serious problem on your own. Also, remember that you can find treatment for your disease at a qualified pain doctor. There is no cure for fibromyalgia currently. But there are ways to get treatment that will help you manage your symptoms.