Sex hormonal factors and chronic widespread pain: a population study among women.

Tatiana MacFarlane, A. S. Blinkhorn, H. V. Worthington, R. M. Davies, Gary John MacFarlane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Objective. The observation of higher rates of chronic widespread pain, the cardinal feature of fibromyalgia, in women has led to hypotheses about the role of sex hormonal factors in the aetiology of symptoms. There is little available evidence from epidemiological studies on their importance or role.

Methods. A population postal survey was carried out involving 1178 female participants living in south-east Cheshire in the north-west of England.

Results. Amongst pre- and peri-menopausal women, the risk of chronic widespread pain was unrelated either to the length of the menstrual cycle or the usual length of period reported by participants. Risk was similar in current users and non-users of the oral contraceptive pill, and amongst users there was no relationship with duration of use. However, the reporting of chronic widespread pain showed a relationship with total score on a premenstrual symptom questionnaire. However, this relationship was explained by pain symptoms. Amongst post-menopausal women, reporting chronic widespread pain was not related to age at menopause. An increased (but non-significant) risk of chronic widespread pain was associated with current hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which may be a consequence of HRT being prescribed for menopausal symptoms.

Conclusion. This study, conducted on a large unselected population, has not demonstrated an association between sex hormonal factors and chronic widespread pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-457
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • pain
  • fibromyalgia
  • sex hormones
  • epidemiology
  • RISK


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