Why It Can Hurt To Be A Woman

   By drodriguez  Aug 13, 2010

Being a woman just got a little harder.  A new study shows that women experience more pain over a lifetime than men and the pain women feel is often more intense and long-lasting.  A recent article from CNN discusses what doctors have found and what it means to women. 

Though researchers are unsure exactly why women have more recurrent pain and disabilities from pain, one theory has a lot to do with hormones.  Jennifer Kelly, from the Atlanta Center for Behavioral Medicine in Georgia, discusses this theory and how the menstrual cycle often has a lot to do with discomfort for women who suffer from recurrent pains.  Interestingly, scientists found that a woman’s brain structure actually changes significantly when they suffer from menstrual cramps.

And what could be making pain worse for women is that we tend to focus on the emotional aspects of the pain which could lead to depression.  Men have been found to only focus on the sensory issues rather than worrying how the pain may effect their responsibilities like women do.  

Since we seem to deal with pain differently, it only makes sense that doctors shouldn’t treat men and women pain sufferers in the same way.  Dr. Chaim Putterman, chief of rheumatology at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, discusses why he agress that doctors should consider gender when treating a patient with chronic pain.  Dr. Putterman says, “We may be doing our patients a disservice by doing it that way, and perhaps there are gender-specific influences that need to be taken into account that we’re not taking into account.”

What do you think of the new studies showing women suffer from more pain than men?

Do you think doctors should take this into consideration when treating patients?

Make a Comment

mindymule by mindymule | topock, AZ
Sep 18, 2010

I am so happy to be able to read all of these ladies stories

wordwrangler by wordwrangler | wright City, MO
Sep 18, 2010

Fortunately, I have progressed and now have a neurologist who believes me, a psychiatrist who listens to me, and a pain management physician/nurse practitioner who works with me to maintain what I feel is an acceptable and manageable level of pain on a daily basis. It does help that I keep them posted on my own efforts to manage my pain non-pharmaceutically by exercising, keeping track of my eating habits, and trying to get enough sleep. I think we are looked at differently than men when it comes to pain, and I am not sure it will ever change.

wordwrangler by wordwrangler | wright City, MO
Sep 18, 2010

I am not so sure we experience more pain than men; however, I do believe that we experience pain differently than men do. Like others said, we have menstrual cramps, go through labor and delivery, and often have to keep going even when we are in pain, because as mothers our jobs never end. I also know from experience that many doctors tend to look at women who suffer from invisible disabilities as whiners or hypochondriacs. It took me almost a year to get even somewhat effective treatment for my chronic pain condition. I was even dumped by one doctor who belonged to a clinic that treated my specific kind of pain.

clowngirl by clowngirl | Tallapoosa, GA
Sep 14, 2010

I have a wonderful doctor,her name is Amy EuBanks,I just love her.I'm a single parent & raised my kids my self. I have a lot of health problems,I worked for 10 years in pain every day.I went to doctor after doctor of course they were men.Every one of them said there wasn't anything wrong with me.I was even told one time,by a man doctor that I couldn't be in that much pain.Finally I went to see Dr,EuBanks,she worked with me,she let me cry on her shoulder.But she found out that I have Fibromyalgia,Degenerative Disc Disease,& 2 protruding discs.Also I have arthritis in my back,my hip & knee.I'm on disability now with Social Security & I take a ton of pills.THe point is she took the time to find out what was wrong with me,not like the men doctors. It all wasn't in my head,I was truly in severe pain,but I worked anyway for my kids.Ya,women can tolerate a lot more pain than a man!!!

misspassion89 by misspassion89 | Corunna, MI
Sep 10, 2010

From my experiences it seems that when a man is head of house they are most likely to be the ones refusing to go to the doctors even for a checkup and I know some people who go so many times they make themselves believe they are sick when they are not. As for the men who never go, it is not that they are stronger than women, but maybe they're just content with their lives. For women, we go through not just puberty but menstrual cycles, mid life crisis, menopausal...never ending cycles of pain & discomfort in our lives and we survive only to make us stronger.

vintagepurple by vintagepurple | VISALIA, CA
Sep 08, 2010

so what your saying we all need to kick randome men in leg to even up the score?! i am totally board! look out fellas ;-)

silk79 by silk79 | Carmichaels, PA
Aug 29, 2010

To much stress can cause alot of health problems also.. Everyone tells me to chill out, but its easier said then done...

redshoesnob42 by redshoesnob42 | Portland, OR
Aug 25, 2010

I believe that stress is the cause of most of what is wrong with women. We wear way more hats than we have ever had to and it takes its tole on us, physically. We also have bought into the myth that we HAVE to do it ALL. That somehow if we don't we are less of a woman. This causes terrible stress; and we know that stress makes pain worse. Having a good cry just won't do it any more.

Brindamorr by Brindamorr | NEW WINDSOR, NY
Aug 25, 2010

I suffer with chronic pain, and I do notice that hormones play a role. So do other factors, like weather, and stress. I am also hesitant to medicate, and I don't talk about it much. I have two boys to look out for. Their safety comes before my comfort. My husband is like the other ones mentioned. When he doesn't feel well, his focus is on himself.

Jennyfr by Jennyfr | FOND DU LAC, WI
Aug 17, 2010

I forgot to add that a big difference between my husbands pain and my pain is that I will NOT take the pain meds that he takes because I have to keep myself in control and he never sees a problem with being "loopy" as one of my doctors told me!

Jennyfr by Jennyfr | FOND DU LAC, WI
Aug 17, 2010

There are many reasons doctors should take this into consideration. Like lacinda said women do have a higher tolerance for pain. Not only do we wait and wait until it gets bad (or possibly goes away) but we don't let the entire world know that we hurt like men do. Women also have the instinct built into them to always look out for others FIRST, meaning our children, husbands, dogs, parents, etc. are taken care of and then if we have any energy or time there may be time for US. Hormones are also a huge factor!

lacinda68 by lacinda68 | DUNCANSVILLE, PA
Aug 17, 2010

So true, women have a higher tolerance for pain. When we do finally complain to a doctor it is only because it is extremely bad. There is a bias in health care and women aren't treated adequately with pain...they tell her she has anxiety or depression. But a man gets his pain treated, just a horrible set up.

Brenda121 by Brenda121 | VANCEBURG, KY
Aug 16, 2010

I'm sure they do. If men get as much as a sniffle, they act like their dying..

gengingirl by gengingirl | Covina, CA
Aug 14, 2010

I complete believe in this because more women are taking on more and are the head of household. so this would create more symptons on us.