New research has found that women report more pain throughout their lifetime. Compared to men, women feel pain in more areas of their body and for longer durations.This is interesting, because I'd always heard that women have more endurance for pain. That notion may just have formed from witnessing childbirth. Men have been looking on for millennia and thinking, I couldn't do that.
"The bottom line seems to be that women are suffering more than men," said Ed Keogh, a psychologist from the Pain Management Unit at the University of Bath.
In one study, Keogh and his collaborators interviewed patients in a pain management program. Although the program reduced chronic pain for all the subjects, in follow up exams the women in the group reported pain levels as high as before the treatment -- whereas the improvements in the male group were longer lasting.
In another set of experiments, volunteers were asked to put their arms in an ice water bath. Men were found to have higher pain thresholds (the point where they began to feel pain), as well as higher pain tolerances (the point where the pain became too much)....
"Social and psychological factors cannot be ignored," Keogh said. "We have found that women will focus on the emotional response to stress."
In contrast, men typically think only of the sensation itself, which may explain their higher thresholds and tolerances.
"Women who concentrate on the emotional aspects of their pain may actually experience more pain as a result, possibly because the emotions associated with pain are negative," Keogh said.
I can't help observing, though, that this study is flawed, because they relied on the subject describing his or her own pain, and men are more likely -- I would think -- to put on a stoical front. Maybe women seem to have more endurance for pain because they are more willing to call a feeling pain or to admit they have pain.
But if it's true and we women do experience heightened physical sensation because of a tendency to merge physical stimuli with emotion, then we ought to have more pleasure too. As Tiresias reported.