When it comes to enduring pain, women have a winning card which always works, and that is childbirth. While women may be more sensitive to pain but man remembers it more clearly and deeply, according to a recent study.
“We set out to do an experiment looking at pain hypersensitivity in mice and found these surprising differences in stress levels between male and female mice,” explains senior author Jeffrey Mogil, professor of pain studies at McGill University’s psychology department and the Alan Edwards Centre Research on Pain.
“So we decided to extend the experiment to humans to see whether the results would be similar. We were blown away when we saw that there seemed to be the same differences between men and women as we had seen in mice.”
The study included 41 men and 38 women between the age of 18 to 40 where mice and humans were subjected to mild heat to their paws and forearms in their test container or test rooms respectively. They had to scale the pain on a 100-point scale.
Later, very tightly inflated blood pressure cuff were tied to their arms, and they were told to do 20 minutes arm exercise. Mice were injected with vinegar to induce stomach pain for thirty minutes.
Next day, subjects were carried to the same rooms or different rooms and test container(in case of mice). The result showed that men showed more level of stress when they were brought to the same room and women were just fine with the pain.
“There was a reason to expect e would see increased sensitivity to pain on the second day, but there was no reason to expect it would be specific to males. That came as a surprise,” said Mogil.
“Men are supposed to be stoic and macho, and women don’t have to be, and so if anyone is going to admit to being stressed on day two, it should be women. But it wasn’t. It was the men,” he added.
Chronic pain is ever growing problem which spans about 50 million Americans — that is more than 20 % of adult population.
The study showed that memory plays a vital force in chronic pain. To confirm this, researchers injected mice with ZIP which inhibits the memory and put the mice in test container, this time they didn’t show signs of any stress.
“This is an important finding because increasing evidence suggests that chronic pain is a problem to the extent that you remember it, and this study is the first time such remembered pain has been shown using a translational- both rodent and human subject-approach,” says Martin.
“This research supports the idea that the memory of pain can affect the pain,” added Mogil.
This study can give insights to doctors to cure the chronic pain in the future.