Women are more sensitive to pain than men

Their pain sensitivity can be reduced by watching a painfull movie. Together with the television program “de kennis van nu”, Monique Steegers and Esmeralda Blaney Davidson have performed an online study on pain sensitivity in the Dutch population. 

Over 9000 people responded. Their most important question was: is there a difference in pain sensitivity between men and women. And the answer is yes: women are more sensitive to pain than men. The pain sensitivity increased in people with more pain.

But pain sensitivity can be influenced. For instance, they also found that people who experience pain, but perform sports on a regular basis have a lower pain sensitivity than those that do not perform sports. In addition, watching a short movie in which people clearly had pain, like for instance breaking a leg, resulted in a lower pain sensitivity, but only in women. The mechanism behind this is not clear, but differences in empathy between men and women could play a role. The researchers now want to focus on unraveling the molecular mechanisms behind their findings.

More information via de Kennis van nu (in Dutch)
Monique Steegers