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Women feel more pain than men, claims study
Agony: New research has found that women suffer more pain than men across a range of medical conditions (pictured posed by model)
The argument that women handle pain better than men has been debated many times in the long-running battle of the sexes.
Now scientists have come down on the side of women in one regard – after concluding that they endure more pain than their male counterparts.
Researchers have discovered that across a range of conditions from arthritis to digestive problems, female patients typically experience greater discomfort than men.
They looked at the records of 11,000 patients and found that, overall, women rated their pain higher on an 11-point scale of how bad they were feeling.
As part of their routine medical care, the patients had been asked to rate how they felt on a scale of 1 to 10, with 0 being ‘no pain’ and 10 being ‘worst pain imaginable’.
Women reported more intense pain than men in 14 of 47 disease categories. Men did not report more intense pain in any category and in the rest they were even.
The differences between the sexes were notable in circulation, arthritis, respiratory and digestive problems.
Ache: Men did not report a more intense pain than women in any category
Women reported more intense pain than men in 14 out of 47 categories
There was also a difference in issues
with bones and muscles, plus severe nasal problems, neck and joint pain
and high blood pressure.
typical difference between men and women was just one point on the pain
scale, but that could be the difference between a drug working and not
Lead author Dr
Atul Butte, chief of systems medicine in the department of pediatrics at
Stanford University School of Medicine, said that the disparity was
‘the most surprising finding’.
He said: ‘We completely wouldn’t have expected such a difference where women were reporting a whole pain point higher on the 0-to-10 scale than men.’
He was supported by Jeffrey Mogil, a pain expert at McGill University in Montreal who said: ‘What this paper does above and beyond what came before is a matter of sheer size. In my mind, it puts the story to bed forever.’
Previous studies have suggested the difference between the sexes may be due to oestrogen in women dampening pain receptors which helps them endure more pain when they are not menstruating.
Surprised: Dr Atul Butte, who led the study, said he hadn't expected to see such a difference between the sexes
Some experts however said that men feel pressure not to show their emotions and keep themselves in check so might be less willing to admit they are suffering.
Dr Carol Warfield, chairman of the department of anesthesia, critical care and pain medicine at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, said: ‘There have been a number of reports indicating that in our society stoicism is often considered virtuous, especially in men.
‘Therefore, men may be less likely to report high levels of pain even if they perceive them. In other words, men and women may experience the same levels of pain but women are more likely to actually admit that they have pain.’
Dr Irene Wu, assistant clinical professor of anaesthesiology at UCLA Medical Centre, added: ‘Women take it (pain) in a lot more and for longer periods of time, so when it does accumulate, it may seem like at the doctor’s office their pain is so much more severe than men’s pain is’.