Monographic Section

Gender differences in pain and its relief


There is much evidence to suggest that gender is an important factor in the modulation of pain. Literature data strongly suggest that men and women differ in their responses to pain: they are more variable in women than men, with increased pain sensitivity and many more painful diseases commonly reported among women. Gender differences in pharmacological therapy and non-pharmacological pain interventions have also been reported, but these effects appear to depend on the treatment type and characteristics. It is becoming very evident that gender differences in pain and its relief arise from an interaction of genetic, anatomical, physiological, neuronal, hormonal, psychological and social factors which modulate pain differently in the sexes. Experimental data indicate that both a different modulation of the endogenous opioid system and sex hormones are factors influencing pain sensitivity in males and females. This brief review will examine the literature on sex differences in experimental and clinical pain, focusing on several biological mechanisms implicated in the observed gender-related differences.




Pain; sex; gender

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