Science

Men can endure more pain than women: Study

| Updated on: Nov 01, 2012
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Men can tolerate more pain than women and are less likely to react to it because they want to appear macho, a new study has found.

According to a study by Leeds Metropolitan University, stereotypical gender attitudes account for differences in pain expression between the sexes.

Pain Scientist Dr Osama Tashani recruited more than 200 British and Libyan student volunteers who underwent experimental pain tests.

“Global research indicates a growing body of evidence that ethnicity influences response to experimentally induced pain.

Gender also has an impact to this with women displaying greater sensitivity, Tashani said.

“Traditionally high levels of stoicism are associated with men and high levels of sensitivity associated with women. Some ethnic groups are described as more stoic, while others are viewed as more free in expressing their pain behaviour,” he said in a statement.

The four factors taken into account in the study were individual sensitivity and endurance, stereotypical endurance, individual willingness to report pain and stereotypical sensitivity.

Two types of experimental-pain procedures were carried out on all student volunteers — a pressure pain test, which saw 1cm diameter blunt tip pressed onto participants’ hands and an ischemic pain test which involved a blood pressure cuff being applied below the elbow of the students’ non-dominant arm.

The arm was then raised above their head for one minute while the cuff was inflated, limiting blood flow.

The tests suggested that the judgement of Libyan men and women about masculine and feminine attitudes towards gender role were more conservative than British.

Libyan women also showed a more feminine role than white British women, however Libyan women had lower ratings than British women for willingness to report pain.

Men had higher pressure pain thresholds and lower pain intensity ratings than women, irrespective of nationality.

Significant effects for sex and ethnicity for pressure pain threshold were also detected. Men had higher thresholds than women and Libyan participants had higher than white British participants.

Published on November 01, 2012

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