Do men and women feel pain differently?

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Nurse gives injection to woman, New Orleans, 1941. Image: Wikimedia

Pain researchers are opening their eyes to the spectrum of responses across sexes. Results are starting to trickle out, and it’s clear that certain pain pathways vary considerably, with immune cells and hormones having key roles in differing responses.

This push is part of a broader movement to consider sex as an important variable in biomedical research, to ensure that studies cover the range of possibilities rather than gleaning results from a single population.

The research could open the door for new medical advances, adds [Institute of Gender and Health director Cara] Tannenbaum. These are sorely needed: some 20% of people worldwide experience chronic pain — and the majority are women. Today, the pharmaceutical market offers the same pain drugs to everyone. But if the roots of pain are different, some drugs might work better in some people than in others.


Moreover, people might require different pain medications when hormone levels fluctuate through life. And a person’s sex doesn’t always fit clearly into the categories of male and female: it is determined by a spectrum of characteristics, including genetics, anatomical development and hormone levels, each of which might affect a person’s needs in pain therapy

Related article:  Cancer has a male bias and we're just starting to understand why
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Image: Nature

Read full, original post: Why the sexes don’t feel pain the same way

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