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Fibromyalgia and Pregnancy


Why Is Exercise Important for Fibromyalgia and Pregnancy?

Exercise helps keep you fit. It strengthens muscles, keeps joints flexible, and boosts mood by increasing serotonin in your body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that scientists have found to be related to fibromyalgia. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that send specific messages from one cell to another. While only a small percentage of serotonin is located in the brain, this neurotransmitter is believed to play a vital role in mediating moods.

Too much stress can lead to permanently low levels of serotonin. That, in turn, can lead to aggression and feelings of depression. Lack of exercise can aggravate low serotonin levels. On the other hand, increased levels of serotonin in the brain are associated with a calming, anxiety reducing effect. In some cases they are also associated with drowsiness. Having a stable level of serotonin in the brain is linked with a positive mood.

Talk to your health care provider about the level of activity that is right for you.

Are Women Especially Affected by Levels of Serotonin?

It appears that women may have a greater sensitivity to changes in serotonin. Mood swings during the menstrual cycle or menopause or following the birth of a baby are induced by the action of hormones on neurotransmitters.

Various factors can have a positive effect on serotonin levels. These include sunlight, certain carbohydrate foods, some hormones, and exercise. Exercise acts as nature's tranquilizer, helping to boost serotonin levels in the brain. Studies show that exercise also triggers the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine, which are known to boost alertness.

What Exercises Can I Do With Fibromyalgia During Pregnancy?

Along with stretching and normal daily activities during pregnancy, consider exercising in a warm swimming pool. The heat might help ease the fibromyalgia pain while the stretching and other low-impact exercise can keep your muscles and joints flexible and strong.

The water temperature should feel comfortable but not hot. In a pool, water temperatures from 83 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit are usually comfortable for exercise. But if you're pregnant, ask your doctor  before exercising in a warm pool. Do not use a whirlpool bath or spa or hot water in your bath during pregnancy. Doing so could harm fetal development.

Other exercises that might be helpful include riding a stationary bike, tai chi, and yoga.

What Medications Can I Take for Fibromyalgia During Pregnancy?

For women who ache all over because of fibromyalgia during pregnancy, acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) is often recommended. Still, it's best to avoid all medications without approval from your fibromyalgia doctor and obstetrician.

Learn all you can about fibromyalgia and pregnancy before you get pregnant. Then, you will be well prepared once you do.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on April 04, 2014
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