Women 'Have A Higher Pain Threshold Than Men', Study Suggests
Canadian scientists say that they were shocked to discover that men and women didn't remember past pain the same way in their study.
They found that when it comes to individuals facing the same pains they have experienced before, men are more "stressed and hypersensitive" to that pain than women.
Dr Jeffrey Mogil, who led the study at McGill University, said: "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.
"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 difference between men and women as we had seen in mice."
And Dr Loren Martin, from the University of Toronto, added: "What was even more surprising was that the men reacted more.
"Because it is well known that women are both more sensitive to pain than men, and that they are also generally more stressed out."
The human subjects took part in two experiments for the study.
For the first part of the experiment, 41 men and 38 women experienced low-level pain and heat was placed on their forearms. They then rated the pain on a scale of zero to 100.
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Straight after, they were subjected to a more intense pain - they had a tightly inflated blood pressure cuff strapped to their arm and had to do 20 minutes of arm exercises.
Just seven of the 80 volunteers rated the pain as less that 50 on the scale.
The scientists repeated the same experiments the next day. They found men rated their pain "higher than they did the day before, and higher than women did".
Dr Mogil said: "We believe that the men were anticipating the cuff, and, for the males, the stress of that anticipation caused greater pain sensitivity.
"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 scientists hope their findings will help find new treatments for chronic pain.
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