Men also have a hormone system in which things change over time. Does this also affect the extent to which they experience RLS?
In this blog I pay attention to men with restless legs. In what circumstances and situations do they get RLS and is it different from women?
I recently received a message from an older man who told me about his restless legs. I still know him from before and I already knew from his wife that she has RLS. Both are now over eighty and only started to suffer from restless legs at a later age.
RLS is common in older people over the age of sixty. I know from fellow sufferers that restless legs can start at all ages. Some get RLS as a child or in their twenties. For others, for example, it starts when they are in their forties or later in life. In that sense, there is not such a big difference between men and women.
I am still looking for an answer to the question why RLS occurs twice as often in women as in men. I tend to also look for it in hormonal conditions, in relation to the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, but perhaps also of serotonin.
Close to me, I know a man in his fifties who was diagnosed with PLMD (Periodic Limb Movement Disorder) last year. He may have had PLMD for years without knowing it.
PLMD is a condition related to RLS. It probably also has to do with a disturbed production of dopamine. About 80% of people with RLS also have PLMD.
My friend has been taking medication for anxiety and depression for a long time. These drugs act on his disrupted serotonin metabolism. He has wondered for some time whether his PLMD was there before he started taking antidepressants.
He may have previously had an imbalance in his neurotransmitter production, causing PLMD. Perhaps it was only afterwards, as a by-product of the PLMD, that he developed an anxiety disorder.
Once men suffer from restless legs, they certainly suffer no less than women.
I recently read in an article that scientific research has shown that men with RLS die earlier. The average age of the men in this study was 67 years. Men with RLS were found to use antidepressants more often and to suffer more often from cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, sleeping problems and high blood pressure.
I don’t know whether women also live shorter lives as an indirect result of restless legs. However, chronic poor sleep seems to me to be harmful for everyone. Certainly in the longer term. Your body can structurally recover insufficiently from the activities of the day at night. This irrevocably increases the risk of contracting all kinds of potentially serious conditions.
The qualification ‘innocent’ or ‘minor’ ailment that is still often given to RLS in the medical world therefore seems to me to be at least a bit short-sighted.