At McGill University in Montreal, Canada, Sorge was investigating how animals develop an extreme sensitivity to touch. The males behaved as the scientific literature said they would: they yanked their paws back from even the finest of threads. Sorge and Mogil would never have made their discovery if they had followed the conventions of most pain researchers. By including male and female mice, they were going against the crowd. This push is part of a broader movement to consider sex as an important variable in biomedical research, to ensure that studies cover the range of possibilities rather than gleaning results from a single population. A major change came in , when the US National Institutes of Health NIH made it a requirement for grant applicants to justify their choice of the sex of animals used in experiments. The discoveries in pain research are among the most exciting to emerge, says Cara Tannenbaum, scientific director of the Institute of Gender and Health in Montreal, part of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The research could open the door for new medical advances, adds Tannenbaum. Today, the pharmaceutical market offers the same pain drugs to everyone. But if the roots of pain are different, some drugs might work better in some people than in others.
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U nderstanding how men and women feel feel pain is clouded by conflicting results and murky interpretations. While some work suggests that women feel more pain than men , other studies have found the opposite to be true. So which gender has the higher threshold? Andreas Sander-Kiesling, in the department of anesthesiology and intensive care at the Medical University of Graz in Austria, reviewed records of more than 10, patients undergoing various surgeries over a two year period who were asked to rate their pain within 24 hours of their procedure. Interestingly, women reported less pain after invasive procedures. Because the average age of the women was 58—post-menopause when estrogen, which can increase pain sensitivity, drops—that might in part explain the finding. MORE: Men vs.
Patti Neighmond. The pathway to opioid abuse for women often starts with a prescription from the doctor's office. One reason is that women are more likely than men to seek help for pain. Pain researchers say that not only do women suffer more painful conditions , they actually perceive pain more intensely than men do. For more than two decades, Fillingim has been studying gender differences and pain, most recently at the University of Florida's Pain Research and Intervention Center of Excellence, where he is director.
We all know that there are a lot of sayings and traditions. But in this day and age science has come so far it can study just about anything. Or at least not without being subjective.