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Food As Medicine

Things You Didn’t Know About Hormones: Part 2

Muscle Aches & Fibromyalgia

Did you know that more females than males experience fibromyalgia?  Did you also know that it frequently appears during times when woman experience a drop in their hormones, specifically estrogen?  It has been noted that up to 80% of fibromyalgia patients are women between the ages of 30 and 50.  Estrogen obviously drops in perimenopause and postmenopause.  It can also occur in postpartum women, particularly if the pregnancy is after age 35.  Other causes for lower estrogen can be after a tubal ligation, discontinuation of birth control pills, dieting or even chronic stress.  Smokers tend to have lower estrogen levels.

What does estrogen have to do with muscle, ligament and tendon aching and pain? 

It is well known that fibromyalgia occurs with sleep disorders.  Estrogen helps provide restful, and recuperative sleep.  If a dream state is not reached with sleep, or if sleep is interrupted throughout the night, the levels of growth hormone are not produced.  These repair tired and achy muscles. A cycle develops: pain causes disruption of sleep, which causes disruption of growth hormones and repair of muscles, which causes muscle pain, etc. 

Let’s say that you are taking estrogen and the hot flashes have resolved but you are still having difficulty with sleep and muscle pain.  Are you getting an adequate amount of estrogen?  A simple blood test with help you to know this.  It includes estradiol, FSH, and testosterone.  Yes testosterone!  If ovaries are not producing an adequate amount of estrogen, they are probably not producing enough testosterone either.  Woman do not need a lot of testosterone, but they do need some.  Testosterone strengthens muscles and helps prevent injuries.

So if you are aching and stiff, think about hormones and sleep.  Are you suffering needlessly when a simple adjustment of estrogen dose may be beneficial?

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