What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia may not be a condition you hear about every day, but it affects millions of people worldwide - the vast majority of whom are women
Adam Hamdi
Written by

Coni Longden-Jefferson

Fibromyalgia may not be a condition you hear about every day, but it affects millions of people worldwide - the vast majority of whom are women. Here we’ll explain exactly what the condition is and its connections to our hormonal health and conditions like endometriosis. 


Key Takeaways


  • Fibromyalgia is a condition where people experience severe chronic pain
  • Around 80% of cases are reported by women 
  • There is currently no cure and treatment options are limited 
  • Some research indicates that symptoms may be worse during certain points of our cycle - and there could also be a connection to endo. 


What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a complex condition generally characterised by chronic pain. There is no test to formally diagnose fibromyalgia and, like many conditions linked to pain, people are often disbelieved and misdiagnosed when seeking medical help. 

Infact, it wasn’t so long ago that many health professionals completely dismissed the existence of fibromyalgia. However, around 4% of the world’s population are thought to be living with the condition - which is over 200 million people.  


What are the common symptoms of fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia manifests differently in different people, but some of the most common symptoms include: 

  • Widespread chronic pain - This usually means musculoskeletal pain throughout the entire body 

  • Fatigue - waking up tired even after a good night’s sleep, or having no energy in the middle of the day 

  • Issues with sleep - Either waking in the night or struggling to get to sleep 
  • Cognitive issues - Many people with fibromyalgia report a symptom commonly referred to as "fibro fog" which causes issues with focus and memory. Some surveyed have even found that people find the cognitive issues harder to manage than the physical pain.  

Other potentially secondary symptoms include: 

  • Headaches
  • Dry Eyes
  • Rashes
  • Skin Irritation 
  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Bladder Issues 


Causes of Fibromyalgia


We still don’t fully understand what causes fibromyalgia. Some theories are that the brain and nerves overreact to normal pain signals. This may be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain or an issue with nerves in the spine. There also seem to be a few common factors that link fibromyslaiagia sufferers. 

Firstly , there definitely seems to be a genetic component - as the condition often runs in families. There have also been links found between fibromyalgia and trauma or extreme stress - and it’s even a potential symptom of PTSD. Lastly, there are also signs that the conditions can be triggered by other illnesses and infections - like flu or pneumonia. 


Fibromyalgia in women


However, one of the biggest risk factors of fibromyalgia, seems to be being a woman! The vast majority (over 80%) of cases are reported by women. Now, whilst that might be because less men are seeking help for chronic pain - it does seem to imply there is a biological element to the condition. 

Some experts believe that there could be a connection between hormones and fibromyalgia, Hormones like oestrogen help to manage our reaction to pain, so at times when oestrogen is low (towards the end of our menstrual cycle or as we reach menopause) we might find that our pain threshold is lower - and we could be more prone to symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Women are also more prone to central sensitisation. Central sensitisation is when your central nervous system becomes hypersensitive to pain signals, which could also contribute to the development of fibromyalgia.


Fibromyalgia and endometriosis

On a cultural level, there are so many similarities between fibromyalgia and endometriosis. Both are conditions that are routinely dismissed and ignored by healthcare professionals, both dramatically impact the quality of life of those living with them and both still take far too long to be diagnosed. 

However, the connection actually goes a lot deeper than that. In fact, one study found that women with endometriosis are 6% more likely to also suffer from fibromyalgia - but why might that be? 

To understand how fibromyalgia could be connected to fibromyalgia, we have to remember that endometriosis is not just a painful period - it’s a full body inflammatory disease and has strong links to our immune system. Whilst endometriosis is yet to be officially categorised as an autoimmune disease, many people believe it could be. 

There are also some indications that fibromyalgia could be linked to our immune systems. Not only are the symptoms incredibly similar to other autoimmune diseases like lupus, but some small studies have even indicated that autoantibodies may contribute to fibromyalgia. 


Living with fibromyalgia

Another similarity between endometriosis and fibromyalgia is that there is currently no known cure. However, symptoms can be managed in holistic ways, as well as through medication. 

Regular exercise, a healthy balanced diet and reducing stress can all help to make life with fibromyalgia more manageable.

When it comes to directly managing pain, like endometriosis, many people worry about the ongoing effects of taking lots of intense pain killers. 

If you are looking for a drug-free pain relief method, you could try our Myoovi Kit. Whilst originally created for period pain, many people in our community utilise it for other types of pain including IBS and back pain. If you regularly struggle with pain in your lower backl or abdominal area - it could be a great option or you!