Women stronger sex when dealing with pain
Men and women prepare for and deal with pain in different ways.
London: Move over, the macho man image. It's women who are the stronger sex when it comes to dealing with extreme pain, a new study has revealed.
Researchers have also found that men and women prepare for and deal with pain in very different ways -- while males put their energy into fearing a painful procedure, females think of ways to cope with it.
However, despite claims that evolution and childbirth has led women to withstand more pain than men, the study does not back this up.
In the study, when subjected to an excruciating medical test, 16 healthy women felt the same discomfort as 16 healthy male volunteers. Brain scans showed that women linked pain to negative emotions -- the men just tried to avoid it.
According to the researchers at the Wingate Institute of Neurogastroenterology, the study is small-scale and it is not possible to claim that one sex is tougher than the other, the 'Daily Express' reported.
But they believe their findings could help doctors to understand how long-term chronic pain affects men and women differently. It may lead to new ways of treating people with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.
In the tests, volunteers had a tube inserted up their nose and into their gullet. As brain scans were taken, a small balloon at the end of the tube was inflated to slowly increase levels of pain.
Professor Qasim Aziz of the institute said the women volunteers showed more activity in the emotion-processing areas of the brain than the men. This could suggest that women may attribute more emotional importance to pain which "may influence how they perceive, report and respond" to it.
Presenting the findings to the British Society of Gastroenterology's annual meeting in Birmingham, he said: "Further research is required to determine if brain imaging studies can help to guide therapy." Dr Steven Coen, a doctor in psychology who led the study, said: "We are not saying men and women feel pain differently, but the way their brain interprets pain may differ."
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