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Fibromyalgia or Perimenopause?

Apr 3, 2024   •   
Fibromyalgia or Perimenopause?

Fibromyalgia, Perimenopause and Dr Google

Are you noticing more frequent aches and pains in your body, inexplicable fatigue, abdominal bloating, ‘brain fog’? Do you ‘Dr Google’ to find an explanation for your symptoms? I did.
Back in 2020 I was 44 years of age with two pre-schoolers. I was experiencing prolonged fatigue and brain fog alongside frequent, intense body aches and pains that I did not put down to exercising. After a ‘Dr Google’ session I took myself to the GP for a diagnosis.

Medical tests and dead-ends

Brain fog set in at the GP appointment and, with the distraction of my children, I forgot to describe all symptoms except fatigue and dizziness. I was referred for an iron check which resulted as ‘normal’. In the following months I began experiencing excessive bloating despite leading a healthy lifestyle. I endured 3 months of bloating then revisited my GP citing this and the other symptoms I was experiencing. Once again, the prescribed tests come back ‘normal’. I pushed the GP to look further. They finally mentioned a condition called Fibromyalgia that can present with these symptoms. This was the original condition my ‘Dr Google’ searches had suggested. And eventually, my rheumatologist diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose. A rheumatologist looks for several signs that are typical including widespread pain and tenderness of the body lasting more than three months. The body’s tissues appear normal, there are no blood tests, x-rays or scans that can test for it.

Fibromyalgia is a name given to a common group of symptoms marked by generalised pain and muscle stiffness. It does not cause major inflammation or damage to the body’s tissues but is understood to be due to an overactive pain system.

The number, type and intensity of symptoms vary with the individual. The most common symptoms are

  • pain (aching, stiffness, tiredness of muscles)
  • extreme fatigue
  • poor sleep
  • brain fog
  • irritable bowel

Additional symptoms, amongst others, include

  • anxiety
  • depression

It is estimated that about 2% to 4% of adults have fibromyalgia. 1 About 80% to 90% of people with fibromyalgia are women, 1 typically between the ages of 40 and 75, and the symptoms tend to be more severe in women.

Characteristic Symptoms of Fibromyalgia, n.d.

Is it Fibromyalgia or Perimenopause?

I’ve had several recent conversations with women regarding their perimenopausal experiences and the similarity with my fibromyalgia journey struck me. The thing is they appear remarkably similar.

Perimenopause can begin at different ages but generally sometime in your 40’s. Common perimenopausal symptoms include

  • aches and pains
  • sleep problems, tiredness
  • brain fog
  • hot flushes/night sweats
  • anxiety
  • depression

With my 49th birthday impending I now question if I have been experiencing fibromyalgia, perimenopause or both? My purpose with this article is to spread awareness of fibromyalgia and perimenopause. If you are female, 40 years plus and your quality of life is impacted by these symptoms reach out to your GP. Don’t suffer in silence.

You may also need to modify your exercise routine, a MumSafeTM trainer can help

Further resources

Arthritis Health
Jean Hailes Perimenopause

Anuschka Wyatt-Weeks runs Feel Vibrant! Fitness in Queensland, . Learn more about Anuschka and Book your Trial today.

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