Did you know? Only 1/10 people who live with fibromyalgia are men. This Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, we want to raise awareness about what it’s like to experience the condition as a man.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that affects around 2.5 million people in the UK, characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, and other symptoms. Men living with the condition may face unique challenges and experiences that are not commonly discussed.
Although the intense pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia affects both sexes, societal expectations and pressures upon men may impact their experience living with the condition, such as feelings of frustration and isolation due to the often misunderstood nature of the condition. As fibromyalgia predominantly affects women, it is commonly regarded as a “woman’s disease”, therefore, men living with fibromyalgia may face stigma or scepticism from others who do not believe that men can experience this condition.
As anyone living with fibromyalgia will know, pain and fatigue are the hallmark symptoms of this condition and can be incredibly debilitating when facing them on a daily basis, particularly when it is impacting your work and social life. As a man, traditional, heteronormative gender roles may make you may feel pressure to “tough it out” or push through your symptoms, which can lead to further exhaustion and exacerbation of your pain.
Similarly, men may feel that they are expected to hide and supress the emotional distress that comes with fibromyalgia, which can be harmful to their mental health. The condition can cause anxiety, depression, and mood swings. In research conducted with fibromyalgia patients of both sexes, it was found that up to 80% of those involved in the study were living with anxiety and up to 60% were living with depressive disorders.
Other societal expectations of traditional masculinity may also impact a man’s experience managing fibromyalgia. Men may feel pressure to maintain physical fitness which can be challenging when living with the condition. Furthermore, fibromyalgia medications can have side effects, such as drowsiness or weight gain, which can be difficult to manage (Pregabalin is often prescribed to treat fibromyalgia, but it increases your appetite which can lead to weight gain). Men may feel self-conscious about these side effects, which can further impact on emotional well-being.
Research into new treatments could improve the quality of life for those living with fibromyalgia.
MAC are looking for male and female volunteers aged 18 to 70 who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia for at least 6 months, who would like to take part in a new clinical trial. If eligible, participants may be able to continue the treatment they currently take for fibromyalgia during the trial period and will receive up to £3,050 for their time and commitment. Transport to the MAC clinic or travel expenses are also provided. The study will run at our clinics in Greater Manchester, Lancashire (Blackpool), Merseyside (Liverpool), South Yorkshire, and Teesside. To find out more about MAC Clinical Research’s fibromyalgia clinical trial and to register your interest to receive further information, visit our Fibromyalgia research webpage.