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Comparative Study
, 44 (3), 255-62

Sex Differences in the Perception of Noxious Heat Stimuli

Comparative Study

Sex Differences in the Perception of Noxious Heat Stimuli

J S Feine et al. Pain.


This study compared pain perception in young male and female subjects, using experimental noxious heat stimuli. During 2 sessions, each of 40 subjects rated the magnitude of 120 heat stimuli, ranging from 45 degrees C to 50 degrees C. The study included a comparison of visual analogue and magnitude matching rating procedures, as well as a test of simulated analgesia, in which the range of stimuli presented during the 2 experimental sessions was shifted by 1 degree C. We found that females rated noxious heat stimuli as more intense than did males, independent of the gender of the experimenter or the type of rating scale. In addition, the data suggest that females discriminate among the painful heat intensities better than males. For example, female subjects showed significant between-session discrimination of noxious heat stimuli, while male subjects did not, and females produced steeper within-session stimulus-response functions than did males. These observed differences in nociceptive discrimination between males and females indicate that the sex-related variation in pain perception is probably related to sensory factors rather than differences in attitude or emotional response.

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