News & Research

Men & Women Experience Pain Differently

Common wisdom is that women are much less sensitive to pain than men are. Childbirth is pointed to as the ultimate example of this. But it doesn’t appear to be true.

An increasing body of evidence shows that men and women process pain differently in their nervous systems and act on it differently, according to a Washington Post article. Conclusions of a 1998 National Institutes of Health panel on pain served as a springboard for further research into the topic. Among the findings mentioned in the article are that women report pain more than do men, areas of male and female brains react differently to pain, and anatomical differences in the brains of men and women could be a factor.

An accompanying graphic illustrates the findings of recent studies that show differences in the ways that men and women experience pain.

Interesting stuff — as long as no one uses it as proof that women are weaker than men.