Daily Fluctuations of Progesterone and Testosterone Are Associated With Fibromyalgia Pain Severity

J Pain. 2018 Apr;19(4):410-417. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2017.11.013. Epub 2017 Dec 14.


The purpose of this longitudinal blood sampling study was to examine relationships between sex hormones and fibromyalgia pain. Eight women meeting case definition criteria for fibromyalgia provided venous blood samples and reported their fibromyalgia pain severity over 25 consecutive days. All women exhibited normal menstrual cycles and were not taking oral contraceptives. Cortisol, and the sex hormones estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone, were assayed from serum. A linear mixed model was used to determine if fluctuations of sex hormones were associated with changes in pain severity. In the entire sample, day to day changes in progesterone (P = .002) as well as testosterone (P = .015) were significantly and inversely correlated with pain severity. There was no relationship between estradiol and pain (P = .551) or cortisol and pain (P = .633). These results suggest that progesterone and testosterone play a protective role in fibromyalgia pain severity. Sex and other hormones may serve to increase as well as decrease fibromyalgia pain severity.

Perspective: Sex hormones fluctuate normally in women with fibromyalgia, but may still contribute to pain severity.

Keywords: Fibromyalgia; longitudinal; pain; progesterone; testosterone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / blood*
  • Fibromyalgia / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Progesterone / blood*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Testosterone / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Testosterone
  • Progesterone