Do men feel more pain than women?


Trends in gender pain perception analysed

A study of more than 10,000 patients has revealed that men are said to feel more pain than women after a major operation, whilst women experience more pain after minor surgeries.

The research, which covered four years worth of operations on 10,200 patients across University Hospitals of the Ruhr University of Bochum in Germany, suggests that hormones may be a contributing factor as testosterone can reduce pain, while women’s pain thresholds are altered by the menstrual cycle.

Is there a braver sex?

The findings showed that despite there being no overall differences in the levels of pain experiences by men and women, the main trend was that men felt more pain after major surgery, such as heart or abdominal surgery, whilst women felt more pain after minor operations, such as biopsies.

Dr Andreas Sandner-Kiesling, from the Medical University of Graz in Austria, told BBC News “The influence of gender is a key issue in medicine. Our data do not definitely clarify this issue, however, based on our findings it can be presumed that the type and severity of surgery may play a pivotal role, as females express higher pain scores after minor procedures, whereas males are more affected after major surgery.”

Experts however remain unsure of the study’s relevance, as it doesn’t appear to take into consideration psychological factors and it is also debatable as to what operations are classed as major and minor.