The Gender Divide: Differences Between Men & Women with MS
Multiple sclerosis (MS), like many other autoimmune conditions, is much more common in women than in men. However, many men live with MS, and they tend to experience a more aggressive disease course compared to women. We wanted to dig into the results of our MS In America 2019 survey to see other differences between how men and women experience life with MS. 4,965 women with MS completed the survey along with 939 men with MS.
Past years’ survey results have shown us that misdiagnosis is common in the MS community. MS symptoms can mimic several other conditions, so it can sometimes take time to get the correct diagnosis. This year, our survey found that women are actually more likely to be misdiagnosed at first before receiving their MS diagnosis.
Relapsing-remitting MS is the most common type of MS for both men and women. However, women are much more likely to live with RRMS compared to men who are more frequently diagnosed with progressive stages of MS, like secondary-progressive MS and primary-progressive MS.
MS and other health conditions
MS is often just the tip of the iceberg for those living with multiple chronic health conditions. In particular, conditions like migraine, chronic pain, and fibromyalgia (among others) are more common in women with MS compared to men with MS.
Common MS symptoms
Both men and women experience a variety of MS symptoms on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, but there were some differences in which symptoms were more commonly experienced by men who completed the survey.
Strength and optimism in the face of MS
Life with MS can be extremely challenging, and adapting to new limitations and lifestyle changes isn’t easy for anyone. Many women with MS reported trying to approach their “new normal” with a hopeful outlook.
Honesty and in-person support
It can be hard to open about the true impact of MS on daily life. Many people avoid “burdening” their loved ones with the reality of how they are feeling. Men who completed the survey were more open about their symptoms and more likely to reach out for support in-person compared to women.
We want to say a huge “thank you!” to everyone in the MS community who took the time to share details about their life with MS with us. Living with MS is a different experience for each and every person. We wanted to highlight some of the main differences we noticed between men and women who responded to our survey. Did any of these ring true for you?
The Multiple Sclerosis In America 2019 survey was conducted online from April through June of 2019. Of the 6,034 people who completed the survey, 5,911 were people who have been diagnosed with MS and 123 were caregivers of people with MS.
How often do you use assistive devices to help manage your MS?