Do Women Have More Chronic Pain Than Men?
Until recently, almost all medical studies were performed exclusively on men. Researchers were worried that the female menstrual cycle would introduce extra, uncontrolled factors into the studies. If they were looking into the effects of an antidepressant, for example, mood swings caused by hormone changes would have made it more difficult to assess which symptoms were caused by the medication and which were not.
Due to the lack of research regarding how females experience pain, scientists were not aware that women experience pain differently. In recent decades, many medical studies have focused on learning the discrepancies of pain experienced between the genders.
What Do More Recent Studies Suggest About the Difference in Chronic Pain Felt by Men Vs. Women?
In modern studies performed on both sexes, scientists found that women are not only more likely to suffer from chronic pain–70% of people with chronic pain issues are women–but they also feel pain more often, for longer periods, in more areas, and even more intensely. That is a pretty big difference!
What Causes Women to Feel More Chronic Pain?
While scientists are not yet certain they know all the factors and more research is needed, these are some of the causes they have found:
- Number of Nerves
- One of the reasons women feel more pain is that women have been found to have as much as twice as many nerves per square centimeter. More nerves translate to more pain.
- While links between hormones and pain sensitivity have not yet been proven, there are studies that show evidence of a possible link. Definitive proof will require more research.
- Social/Psychological Process
- Another possibility being discussed is the social and psychological difference in the way men and women process pain. Women tend to focus more on the emotional impact and stress caused by chronic pain which seems to intensify it.
- Men, on the other hand, tend to focus more on physical sensations alone, which may make it easier to cope. When they attempted to direct their focus to one or the other, men did feel more pain when focusing on emotion, however, women felt little to no difference when focusing on the sensation alone. This would seem to indicate that, either women were unable to separate the two, or it isn't a strong factor for them.
Why Choose The Pain Center?
At The Pain Center, we understand that people are individuals. We stay aware of the latest research to best understand individual causes for chronic pain, and then we treat every patient with a personalized approach to give them the best possible care. Dr. Sandra Thompson has 28+ years of experience and is an expert in managing chronic pain for back, neck, and body. Contact us today to make an appointment for a consultation with our pain specialists at The Pain Center.