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Men Are More Sensitive than Women to Pain After Major Operations

Jun 04, 2014 02:48 PM EDT

Men may feel more pain than women after major surgery, indicating that gender may influence how pain functions, new research suggests.

According to a presentation of findings at this year's Euroanaesthesia meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, researchers set out to determine if gender causes pain to be perceived and experienced differently.

"The influence of gender and sexes is a key issue of today's research in medicine. However, current literature in the field of perioperative medicine rarely focuses on this question," study lead Dr. Sandner-Kiesling said in a statement. "Our aim was to analyze a large population to find differences in postoperative pain perception in females and males."

According to Sandner-Kiesling, he and his colleagues interviewed 10,200 patients from University Hospitals of the Ruhr University of Bochum, Germany.

The total interviewing process took more than four years, and each patient was briefly interviewed 24 hours after undergoing an operation.

Each interview reportedly included a series of questions that allowed researchers to asses patients' experienced pain levels, while adjusting for the type of procedure they underwent.

Interestingly, while overall the researchers found no correlation between gender and pain reports, they did find startling correlations when the subject group was broken up according to the type of surgery.

Women were 34 percent more likely to report more pain after minor procedures such as biopsies, and men reportedly complained of pain 27 percent more than women after undergoing major vascular and orthopaedic surgery.

According to the researchers, while this data does not make any conclusions about pain, it does indicate that there is a clear difference in pain perception based on gender.

Still, whether this is a physiological or socially influenced phenomenon remains unclear.

These findings were presented at the European Anaesthesiology Congress, Euroanaesthesia which is taking place in Stockholm, Sweden until June 6.

It is reccommended that they be viewd as preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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