Fibromyalgia and Hormone Imbalances

Fibromyalgia is often defined as generalized pain and tenderness, and unexplained fatigue that can vary in severity with pain and poor sleep.  It is more common in women and symptoms are aggravated during hormonal-related events, such as pregnancy and menopause. Hormones play at least part of the role in fibromyalgia and balancing them can improve symptoms and quality of life.

The most common symptoms of fibromyalgia include, but not limited to:

    • fatigue
    • pain
    • tenderness
    • lack of quality sleep
    • depression
    • trouble with memory or thinking through processes (aka “brain fog”)
    • irritable bowel syndrome

All hormones should be considered and tested to help ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia.  The following are just some of the hormones that need to be considered in people with fibromyalgia and the symptoms that are usually correlated with their imbalance.

Thyroid hormone

The thyroid gland is commonly found to be under-functioning.  It is frequently susceptible to environmental toxins and genetics.  Most likely ruled out in the beginning of fibromyalgia symptoms, the thyroid should be fully tested (see previous blog).

Symptoms of imbalanced thyroid can include, but not limited to:

    • Fatigue
    • Low body temperature/Intolerance to cold/Cold extremities
    • Low libido
    • Dry skin
    • Weight gain
    • General aches and pains/Fibromyalgia
    • Anxiety/Depression
    • Brittle nails
    • Poor concentration and memory lapses
    • Infertility
    • Constipation

Adrenal hormones

Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is produced by the adrenal glands.  Cortisol is mostly made during the day, and if it is made too much at night, can cause poor sleep.  One study showed that chronic stress can lead to changes in hormones, especially cortisol, resulting in various manifestations of fibromyalgia including pain and fatigue.  Chronic pain in fibromyalgia can also give rise to psychological stress, which continues the cycle of hormonal imbalance.

Symptoms of imbalanced adrenals can include, but not limited to:

    • Fatigue
    • Allergies
    • Irritability
    • Anxiety/Depression
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Trouble concentrating
    • Low libido
    • Hair loss
    • Cravings for sweets
    • Chemical sensitivities
    • Bone loss

Steroid hormones

The most widely known steroid hormones include progesterone, testosterone, and estrogens.  Giving natural testosterone to women with fibromyalgia has been found to decrease fatigue and pain.  Menstruating women may naturally find that their fibromyalgia symptoms are worse around their menstrual cycle when progesterone and estrogen levels are at their lowest.  Correcting the deficiency can help ease fibromyalgia symptoms.

Symptoms of steroid hormone imbalance can include, but not limited to:

    • Hot flashes/Night sweats
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Dry skin
    • Headaches
    • Foggy thinking and memory lapses
    • Anxiety/Depression
    • Fatigue
    • Irregular menstrual cycles/PMS
    • Weight gain/water retention
    • Low libido/painful intercourse/vaginal dryness or atrophy
    • Muscle weakness
    • Heart palpitations
    • General aches and pains/Fibromyalgia
    • Infertility

As seen by the lists of the symptoms above, there are a lot of overlaps in the symptoms of these conditions, therefore making it difficult to assess.  Testing is necessary to further deduce which hormones are playing a role.  As most people with fibromyalgia know, it is a very difficult condition to manage.  However, by balancing the hormones, many people feel improvements in their quality of life reporting improvements in sleep, decrease in pain, and improved energy and vitality.

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