Objectives: We determined the relationship between the menstrual cycle and fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms in premenopausal women. In addition, we compared the clinical features of FM patients diagnosed pre-and postmenopausally.
Methods: We included 80 premenopausal, and 72 postmenopausal patients with FM. All patients were questioned about the severity of their pain and symptoms of FM by using a visual analog scale (VAS). In addition, the patients were asked questions about symptoms of somatization, depression and anxiety. Postmenopausal subjects were asked about the change in their FM symptoms with the onset of menopause; and premenopausal subjects were asked whether their FM symptoms changed during the menses. In addition, 40 premenopausal patients were requested to fill in a diary about their FM symptoms using VAS throughout one menstrual cycle.
Results: Postmenopausal patients had more severe pain on VAS (p = 0.048). Of all the postmenopausal females, 25% said that their FM symptoms started with the onset of menopause and 26.4% said that the severity of their previous symptoms increased after menopause. Of all the premenopausal females, 45% admitted to higher pain severity and 57.5% to a higher fatigue severity during the menses. The patients who defined an increase in their symptoms during the menses were the ones with higher sleep disturbance scores, more somatization symptoms and more tender points (p values < 0.05). The results of the diaries revealed that the mean pain and fatigue scores in the menstrual and luteal phases were higher than the scores in the follicular and premenstrual phases (p values < 0.05).
Conclusions: The menstrual cycle and the onset of menopause affect pain and the severity of other FM-related symptoms in approximately one half of the subjects.