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Pain Manag Nurs. 2000 Sep;1(3 Suppl 1):8-15.

The relationship of gender to pain.

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Wayne State University, College of Nursing, 5557 Cass Ave, Detroit, MI 48202, USA.


Gender differences have been identified in the perception of pain intensity for both acute and chronic pain and with responses to analgesics. Women seem to show lower pain thresholds, a greater ability to discriminate painful sensations, higher pain ratings, and a lower tolerance for pain. Although some pain syndromes, such as facial pain, are more common in women, gender-related responses to pain are not completely consistent. The study of gender differences in relation to pain is relatively new, yet promising. This article reviews the evidence for how gender may play a role in reports of pain intensity, measurements of patient responses, and differences in response to pain therapies. Literature that addresses pain perception and response in acute and chronic nonmalignant and cancer pain states, experimentally induced pain, and responses to analgesics are reviewed in terms of their relationship to gender. Although there are conflicting results for experimental and clinical studies, there is agreement among investigators that certain factors, such as perceptual ability and physiologic mechanisms, do explain gender-related differences to pain and its treatment. Gender is an important variable and should be taken into account in both research and the clinical practice of pain management.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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