It’s official, women are stronger than men – or at least we can handle pain a lot better, a new study has proven.
The research, conducted by Canadian scientists at McGill University, suggests that women are able to forget past pain quicker than their male counterparts. In fact, they were surprised to find that men and women didn’t remember past pain in the same way at all.
According to their study, men are more ‘stressed and hypersensitive’ when facing individual pain than women.
Lead scientist Dr Jeffrey Mogil explained the results saying: ‘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.
‘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 difference between men and women as we had seen in mice.’
The study saw human participants in two separate experiments. In the first one, 42 men and 38 women experienced low-level pain, which in this case was heat on their forearms. They were then asked to rate the level of pain they felt on a scale of zero to 100.
After this, the participants were immediately subjected to a more painful experience – they had a tightly inflated blood pressure cuff strapped to their arm and were asked to do 20 minutes of arm exercises while wearing it.
This turned out to be so painful that only seven of the 80 participants rated the pain as less that 50 on the scale.
To test the way in which pain memory factors into our pain threshold, the scientists then repeated the two exercises the next day and found that men rated their pain ‘higher than they did the day before, and higher than women did.’
‘We believe that the men were anticipating the cuff, and, for the males, the stress of that anticipation caused greater pain sensitivity,’ Dr Mogil explained. ‘There was some reason to expect that we 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 complete surprise.’