How Fibromyalgia Affects Men
Chronic pain may be its chief symptom, but fibromyalgia sometimes comes with additional complications. Chronic fatigue and difficulty sleeping are common complaints, as are headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and restless legs syndrome. Memory problems and difficulty concentrating often come with the territory as well.
In general, Yunus says, men have fewer symptoms than women. They tend to have less from fatigue and they have pain in fewer places. “It’s much less common for men to hurt all over,” Yunus says. “But in many ways, men are more affected, more bothered by fibromyalgia.”
The reason for that may be more sociological than biological.
“Men don’t come to the doctor nearly as much as women,” says Michael J. Pellegrino, MD, a fibromyalgia expert at Ohio Pain and Rehab Specialists and an expert on WebMD’s Fibromyalgia Exchange. “Why? Gender stereotypes.”
“Men tell themselves, ‘I’m not supposed to go to the doctor, I’m not supposed to complain.’ So a lot of the men I see, their wives make them come,” says Pellegrino, who estimates that up to 20% of men with the disorder are undiagnosed.
The longer men put off seeing the doctor, the more they put themselves at risk of developing complications that can affect their work, their hobbies, their relationships. Pellegrino, who has fibromyalgia himself, says that depression is not uncommon among men who have delayed getting a diagnosis.