The Role of Sex Hormones in Pain-Related Conditions

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Jan 18;24(3):1866. doi: 10.3390/ijms24031866.


Millions of people are affected by pain-related conditions worldwide. Literature has consistently shown that each individual experiences and perceives pain in a unique manner due to biological, environmental, and cultural factors in which they have been raised. It has been established that biological males and females perceive pain differently and that it may be partially explained by their distinct hormonal profiles since birth, which are only further magnified during puberty. For biological males, high levels of testosterone have shown to increase their pain threshold; and for biological females, estrogen fluctuations have shown to increase pain intensity and perception. However, sex hormones have not been studied in the context of pain treatment or their impact on biochemical pathways involved in pain perception. For this purpose, the transgender community serves as a unique population to investigate the impact of hormone replacement therapy on molecular pathways involved in the perception of pain. The purpose of this review is to explore the biochemistry of hormone replacement in transgender patients who also have other pain-related conditions such as headaches, fibromyalgia, temporomandibular myalgia, and visceral pain.

Keywords: gender; hormone therapy; pain; pain perception; pain threshold; sex hormones.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Hormones
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain Threshold
  • Testosterone
  • Transgender Persons*
  • Visceral Pain*


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Testosterone
  • Hormones

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.