Women experience pain more intensely than men, according to a US study.
The study, reported in the Journal of Pain, reports that women seeking medical care for a wide range of medical problems in the hospital or clinics at Stanford University School of Medicine reported higher pain intensity, on average, compared with men with the same diagnoses.
Women reported more intense pain in 14 of 47 disease categories, while men did not report more intense pain in any category, ABC News reported.
Women with musculoskeletal disorders such as back, neck and joint pain, sinusitis and even high blood pressure reported more intense pain then men with these conditions.
"We may have to adjust our thinking about how men and women report their pain. The killer question is: Do women actually feel more pain than men?" the San Francisco Chronicle quoted Dr. Atul Butte, lead author of the study, as saying. "That may be more philosophy than anything — how can we tell that for sure?"
Butte said the fact that more women reported more pain overall didn't necessarily mean they had more or less tolerance to pain than men.
Pain affects more than 116 million Americans annually and is one of the most common reasons for taking medication, according to ABC News, citing a 2011 Institute of Medicine report.
ABC quoted other experts as questioning the study's results on the basis that it didn't account for the possibility that many women had additional diseases that may have caused the reported pain.
Dr. Lloyd Saberski, medical director of the Advanced Diagnostic Pain Treatment Centers at Yale University, said the study was "flawed" and that it added "nothing" to doctors' understanding of pain.
While Dr. Timothy Collins, a neurology professor at Duke University Medical Center, told the network that researchers should have added a caveat, saying: "Men consistently report lower levels of pain compared to women."
"At least in the US, there is a culture expecting men to complain less, not admit to as much pain, where women are generally allowed to express pain and emotions connected with pain," he said.
However, the researchers did, according to the Chronicle, say that the results could include "social, psychological or biological factors."
For instance, men might be more reluctant to confess intense pain to a female nurse.
Women are more likely than men to suffer from depression and anxiety, two psychological conditions that can increase susceptibility to pain.