How Men and Women Experience Pain Differently

For years, doctors believed pain was the same across age and gender. Recent research has gone a long way toward clarifying the picture. Significant differences do exist in how men and women experience, process and deal with pain.

Let’s review some key findings:

Generally, Women Probably Feel More Intense Pain Than Men
Research has shown that, on the whole, women report more pain than men throughout the course of their lives. They also tend to experience pain in more areas of their body than men. The frequency, variety and number of “pain episodes” for women may be higher than for men.

Many Painful Conditions May Be Experienced Differently by Men and Women

Do men and women differ in the smallest amount of pain they register – that is, when they feel  “in pain?” Researchers aren’t sure, but it is clear that many painful conditions are processed differently by gender. For example, men and women can present different symptoms of heart attack, which may discourage women from seeking treatment.

Men are Somewhat More Likely to Report Serious Pain After Major Operations

Although both men and women experience pain after major surgeries, men are about 27% more likely to report high degrees of pain after major surgery. That includes heart and shoulder surgery, for example. Interestingly enough, women are somewhat more likely than men to report severe pain after less invasive procedures, such as biopsies.

Women’s Pain Tolerance May Increase With Age and Other Factors

The hormones testosterone and estrogen drive the development of various sex characteristics in men and women, respectively. While their role in pain perception is not well understood, it is known that high levels of estrogen can increase subjective assessment of pain. After menopause, when estrogen levels naturally decline, women may experience higher pain tolerance.

Pain Tolerance Increases Substantially in the Days Before Childbirth

The concentration of pain-reducing hormones in the bloodstream spikes dramatically during the last three weeks of pregnancy. Although this extreme increase in pain tolerance doesn’t last, some increase might be life-long after the birth of a woman’s first child. Researchers have noted many women who’ve experienced childbirth use it as their baseline when assessing pain!

If you’re looking for a pain management clinic in Dallas, Turtle Creek Medical Center is here. Our Dallas pain specialists will develop a personalized treatment plan to help you feel relief. To learn more, contact us today.