Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Men and Women, Living with MS

Some of the issues identified in relation to gender and MS include:

* MS is more common in women, but severity of the disease may be worse in men.
* The prevalence of MS and ratio of women to men has increased during the 20th century and continues to increase.
* In studies involving men with MS, male gender was predictive of a shorter time period before an assistive walking device was required. For example, men were quicker to need devices such as canes after diagnosis.
* Men have a higher rate of cerebellar involvement and a higher risk of primary-progressive disease, both of which are factors associated with a poorer prognosis. A study has found that progranulin gene variability increases the risk of PPMS in men.
* The disease in women tends to be more inflammatory with greater number of gadolinium-enhancing lesions. Men tend to develop more “black holes” as seen on MRI scans.
* Some studies have shown gender has no effect on life expectancy in MS. Some studies have shown shorter than expected life expectancies of men with MS, others have shown longer than expected life expectancies. Perhaps MS in men doesn’t make a difference after all in longevity.

Read this post in its entirety:

MS in Men and Women: Does Gender Matter?


  1. Like if being struck by lightning
    is only likely to happen to one pecent of the people, it may seem like an insignificant number, but it matters to the poor slobs geting zapped.

    And what about sexual orientation,
    or are the gays I meet in MS groups simply more outspoken on personal subjects than non-gay MS'ers?

  2. Every time I read that more women than men get MS, I always ask myself how'd I get so lucky to be among the few men to get it? Interesting thing is that in the group Jennifer and I lead, there's nearly an even split in the number of men and women who regularly attend.

  3. I am really looking forward to your future posts on the role of hormones in this disease. My own experience suggests that hormones are likely to be implicated in some way. I had a quite mild form of MS for 20-some years until I hit perimenopause. That was when I developed the gait issues that have transformed my life. Interestingly,once the gait deficits manifested, hormone replacement therapy made no positive difference. I am no longer on HRT.

  4. Prevalence studies are both fascinating and disturbing.

    Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

  5. @Lorraine, excellent point about the lightning.

    Regarding those folks who are talking about their relationships in your MS groups, I don't know. Of the hundreds of MS blogs I've come across, I can think of maybe 6, no 8, who were written by a homosexual. Of those, 6 were female and 2 were male.

    3:1 ratio, female to male

    This doesn't account for those homosexuals who didn't talk about their relationships or that I just missed the posts in which they discuss their private lives.

    Who knows?

  6. @Dan,
    I suppose that you truly are one of the special few, and RRMS too, right? You are unique and defy the odds and statistics.

    Interesting point about the group you and Jennifer lead. Perhaps the make-up of the group mirrors the leaders?

    I'm trying to remember who else was present when I was getting IVSM treatments over the years. Our neurology clinic has a small space set aside as the Infusion center. One nurse, 5-6 chairs.

    Completely random, but I think that the ratio has been very close to 2:1 female/male of MSers getting steroids. Except one of the guys was getting his monthly Tysabri.

    Wait, I suppose I should count myself in those statistics too for each round of steroids. But that would throw off the numbers, right? Because I'm just one person, not five. Oh dear.


  7. @Patrick,
    Yeah, fascinating, frightening, confusing, etc.

    But are they relevant?

    Numbers and statistics don't matter too much when you (or your loved one) is the person who has MS. At that point, everyone is unique (just like Dan).

  8. @Judy,
    In two weeks, a post is going up discussing "the role of testosterone in women with MS." The few studies I found were very interesting.

    There is a piece going up on MyRACentral in the next couple of weeks which touches on hormones and medications. Very interesting, it may be that MTX (methotrexate) is doing more than just keeping my RA under control.

    Diane Standiford is often discussing the typical progression of the disease over 15-20 years. I wonder how much of that really does correlate to perimenopause and changing estrogen levels.

    Now I need to go back and see if any the studies I read try to address that question. If so, I'll try to incorporate that in the piece (if I didn't already).

  9. If this isn't menopause, I want my money back!

    The way I see it, quitting cigarettes gave me MS, then MS gave menopause. Science, schmience.

  10. I went into surgical menopause at age 33. (a few weeks after MS DX) I see no unusual difference. I had no menopause hot flashes or bone loss or anything really. Maybe just me. But hormones remain a mystery to science on many levels. Is there ANYTHING that hasn't been connected to MS in some way? M&Ms???

  11. One more thing(I promise), speaking for all of the gays (tee hee..."the gays" tee-hee) I have known more lesbians with MS and gay men would be talkin' about it. This delves more into the male/female psyche. Not hormones. Well, except since we known so little about any "gay gene"---I think the whole hormone thing may not be relevant at all, but I have NOTHING to back that up. How do men in a women's body KNOW from EARLY on that they are male not female? Something else is at work, in the brain, and THAT would answer the whole ratio issue. In my guesstimation.

  12. Oooooh M&M's

    But I was only meaning how MANY lesbians in MS support groups, blogs, as compared to the average pop (yes, average means w/o MS to me, but I am a newbie, still learning - make it "overall population?").

    Or are the lesbians just more talkative? More accustomed to speaking on personal matters?

    (I think my mom is still rooting for a little lesbian to "accept," and I'm forty-seven!)