Gender variations in clinical pain experience

Pain. May-Jun 1996;65(2-3):123-67. doi: 10.1016/0304-3959(95)00214-6.


This review is a critical summary of research examining gender variations in clinical pain experience. Gender-comparative pain research was identified through Medline and Psychlit searches and references obtained from bibliographies of pertinent papers and books. Review of this research demonstrates that women are more likely than men to experience a variety of recurrent pains. In addition, many women have moderate or severe pains from menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth. In most studies, women report more severe levels of pain, more frequent pain and pain of longer duration than do men. Women may be at greater risk for pain-related disability than men but women also respond more aggressively to pain through health related activities. Women may be more vulnerable than men to unwarranted psychogenic attributions by health care providers for pain. Underlying biological mechanisms of pain and the contribution of psychological and social factors as they contribute to the meaning of pain for women and men warrant greater attention in pain research.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Disabled Persons
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / psychology
  • Pain Management
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Recurrence
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications


  • Analgesics