There is an on-going debate about who can tolerate more pain: men or women?
This argument usually evolves into a discussion about childbirth and kidney stones. We may not yet have an answer; but a research study, published in Nature Neuroscience, brings us one step closer to understanding how men and women feel pain differently.
Men and women process pain in different parts of their brains. In the study, male and female mice were both given the same drug for pain, targeting the immune cells known as microglia. However, only male mice had a reduced pain response.
“For the past 15 years scientists have thought that microglia controlled the volume knob on pain, but this conclusion was based on research using almost exclusively male mice,” says Jeffery Mogil, professor of pain studies at McGill University in Montreal.
The research also discovered T-cells are likely the sound alarm for pain in females, requiring a different mode of treatment.
It’s already well known that men and women differ in pain sensitivity and women suffer more from chronic pain with higher diagnosis of migraines, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. So why are men and women treated with the same drugs for pain?
The findings indicate there needs to a fundamental reassessment of pain management. Further research is needed to better understand how pain differs between the sexes, but we may soon be introduced to drugs catering to the male and female physiologies.