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Males and females react differently to the same pain

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

gender differences in pain perception

Story at-a-glance -

  • Research into the gender differences of pain perception is meant to lead to better implications for pain management among men and women. Roger Fillingim, Ph.D., has been studying this area and finds women experience pain differently in peripheral stimuli and central sensitization
  • In studies involving men and women exposed to identical pain stimuli, women rated the pain higher on the pain scale, which Fillingim finds consistent with data from other research. In addition to sex hormones, other factors affecting pain perception include emotions, attitude, age and a learned response from past experience
  • Women suffer from anxiety at a greater rate than men and have a greater likelihood of being prescribed a combination of drugs that clinical guidelines caution against. Providing psychological support for anxiety and depression can reduce the use of analgesics and increase an individual's sense of control
  • If you are struggling with opioid addiction, please seek professional medical help immediately. If you are dealing with any type of chronic disease or pain, making changes to your lifestyle and diet may produce significant results, including reducing the pain. Additionally, consider natural, safe and effective pain treatment alternatives rather than over-the-counter or prescription painkillers

It's no secret that men and women are different. Diane Halpern, Ph.D., past president of the American Psychological Association, wrote an academic text, “Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities.” Bruce Goldman, science writer at Stanford, reported in the preface to the first edition that:

“At the time, it seemed clear to me that any between-sex differences in thinking abilities were due to socialization practices, artifacts and mistakes in the research, and bias and prejudice. ... After reviewing a pile of journal articles that stood several feet high and numerous books and book chapters that dwarfed the stack of journal articles … I changed my mind.”


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