Sex and gender differences in pain and analgesia

Prog Brain Res. 2010;186:141-57. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-53630-3.00009-9.


It is a clinical reality that women make up the large majority of chronic pain patients, and there is now consensus from laboratory experiments that when differences are seen, women are more sensitive to pain than men. Research in this field has now begun to concentrate on finding explanations for this sex difference. Although sex differences in sociocultural, psychological, and experiential factors likely play important roles, evidence largely from animal studies has revealed surprisingly robust and often qualitative sex differences at low levels of the neuraxis. Although not yet able to affect clinical practice, the continued study of sex differences in pain may have important implications for the development of new analgesic strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia / psychology*
  • Analgesia / trends
  • Analgesics, Opioid / metabolism
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Nociceptors / physiology*
  • Pain Threshold / drug effects
  • Pain Threshold / psychology*
  • Rats
  • Sex
  • Sex Characteristics*


  • Analgesics, Opioid