Why some men CAN’T ‘man up’: Scientists prove males ARE more sensitive to pain than women – especially if they suffer a repeat injury
- Men remember earlier painful experiences with more clarity than women
- Men get more stressed out about pain when it is in the same location
- Research was done on mice and then on humans to confirm the findings
- Scientists say it could lead to a breakthrough in treating chronic pain
Men and women feel pain in a different way and males are more sensitive to it, researchers have found.
They also discovered men remember earlier pain with more clarity than women and, as a result, get more stressed out when suffering again in the same location.
Women, however, take a more nonchalant response and do not get worked up as much by previous painful experiences.
Research was done on mice and then on humans to confirm the findings and scientists say it could lead to a breakthrough in treating chronic pain.
Women take a more nonchalant response than men and do not get stressed by previous painful experiences (stock)
‘We set out to do an experiment looking at pain hypersensitivity in mice and found these surprising differences in stress levels between male and female mice,’ explains Jeffrey Mogil, professor of pain studies at McGill University, who did the research.
‘So we decided to extend the experiment to humans to see whether the results would be similar.
‘We were blown away when we saw that there seemed to be the same differences between men and women as we had seen in mice.’
Forty-one men and 38 women between the ages of 18-40 took part in the study where they were taken to a specific room and subjected to low levels of pain via heat to their forearm.
Humans rated the level of pain on a 100-point scale and then were asked to conduct arm exercises for 20 minutes while wearing a tight blood-pressure measuring cuff.
Only seven of the 80 subjects rated it at less than 50 on a 100-point scale.
The following day the subjects returned to either the same or a different room and subjected to more pain at the source.
Men remember earlier painful experiences with more clarity than women and, as a result, get more stressed to later pain in the same location (stock)
WHAT IS PAIN?
Health professionals use different terms for different types of pain.
•Short-term pain is called Acute Pain. An example is a sprained ankle.
•Long-term is called Persistent or Chronic Pain. Back trouble or arthritis are examples.
•Pain that comes and goes is called Recurrent or Intermittent Pain. A tooth ache could be one.
Pain signals use the spinal cord and specialised nerve fibres to travel to our brain.
Pain is never “just in the mind” or “just in the body” – it is a complex mix involving our whole being.
Source: British Pain Society
Only when they were taken into the same room as in the previous test did the men rate the heat pain higher than they did the day before.
It was also rated higher by men than by women.
‘We believe that the mice and the men were anticipating the cuff, or the vinegar, and, for the males, the stress of that anticipation caused greater pain sensitivity,’ says Dr Mogil.
‘There was some reason to expect that we would see increased sensitivity to pain on the second day, but there was no reason to expect it would be specific to males.
‘That came as a complete surprise.’
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Current Biology.