Cross-Sectional Analyses of High-Impact Pain Across Pregnancy Status by Race and Ethnicity

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2022 Nov;31(11):1575-1580. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2021.0308. Epub 2022 Feb 28.


Background: Preclinical and clinical research has suggested the existence of pregnancy-associated analgesia, wherein responses to painful stimulation or pain from disease decrease during pregnancy. Materials and Methods: We combined data from multiple years (2012-2015) of the National Health Interview Survey to examine high-impact pain by Hispanic ethnicity and race in women with no prior pregnancy, during pregnancy, and previously pregnant. Results: High-impact pain was less common for women during pregnancy (10.3%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 7.0%-13.7%) than it was for women who had never been pregnant (13.7%; 95% CI: 12.8%-14.5%) and for women who had previously been pregnant (19.8%; 95% CI: 16.0%-23.7%). However, when we examined the data by Hispanic ethnicity and race, we found that non-Hispanic White (NHW) women were less likely to report high-impact pain during pregnancy, but non-Hispanic Black (NHB) women and Hispanic White women were not. In women who reported no prior pregnancy, NHW women were most likely to report high-impact pain, followed by NHB women and Hispanic women. In post hoc analyses, we found that while menstrual problems were associated with increased odds of having high-impact pain, an interaction was not observed between menstrual problems and race/ethnicity (p = 0.48). Conclusions: This cross-sectional study presents a nationally representative examination of the prevalence of high-impact pain across pregnancy status. Using a nationally representative sample of women, we have demonstrated that the prevalence of high-impact pain varies across pregnancy status and that race/ethnicity and the presence of menstrual problems independently affect this prevalence.

Keywords: pain; pregnancy; race.

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menstruation Disturbances
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People*