Women report feeling pain more intensely than men, according to a new study published in the Journal of Pain.
In the study of 11,000 men and women, researchers analyzed patients’ reports of pain across a range of approximately 250 disease categories, including cancer, back pain and infectious diseases. Patients were asked to rate their pain on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 representing "no pain" and 10 signifying the "worst pain imaginable."
Overall, women were more likely to report higher pain levels than men for almost all of the different diseases, says lead author, Dr. Atul Butte, chief of systems medicine in the department of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine. While Dr. Butte acknowledged that many people define pain in different ways, he says the study still found a very clear gender difference.
So what accounts for the difference in pain for men and women? Some researchers say hormones may play a role in pain tolerance. According to an article from Time.com, studies have shown estrogen can help dull the activity of pain receptors, meaning that during low-estrogen parts of the menstrual cycle women may become more sensitive to pain.
The difference could also be accounted for culturally, as men have been taught to be strong in the presence of pain.
Why do you think women report feeling pain more intensely than men?