Women Are More Likely to Experience Chronic Pain: Here's Why

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March is Women’s History Month, and marks a time to honor the contributions women across the globe have made to society. But did you know that when it comes to chronic pain, women are actually more likely to suffer from chronic pain than men? 

For the past twenty years, research on pain and gender has been a point of interest for many scientists. Recently, this research has expanded into how the overall pain experience is different between genders. Take a look at some key findings and differentiators below.


How Does One Experience Pain? 

Multiple factors play into how each individual experiences pain. These factors include genetics, social status, information processing in the brain, and exercise. For women, other factors, such as menstrual cycle, hormones, puberty and reproductive status also play key roles. 

Chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Pain Management, Richard W. Rosenquist, MD, breaks down how women experience the four most common pain types below: 


  1. Pelvic Pain

(Trigger Warning: Rape/Sexual Assault) 

Women that suffer from chronic pelvic pain, but who have not recently had a baby, medical pelvic procedure or injury, are likely to have experienced prolonged intimate partner violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in four American women have experienced rape or intimate partner violence, while this number for men is one in seven. 

Data from these studies suggests this type of violence can contribute to the severity and longevity of chronic pelvic pain, along with the psychological stress endured by women in violent relationships. 


  1. Headache & Migraine

One of the most common pain conditions for both men and women, a review of recent studies concluded the prevalence of headaches is much higher in women than in men. In the National Institutes of Health (NIH) American Migraine Study II, which included more than 29,000 participants, it was estimated that the one-year prevalence of migraine in the U.S. is 18% in women, while it is only 7% in men. It was also reported that women report longer-lasting and more painful headaches, as well as increased symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting. 


  1. Musculoskeletal Pain

In a 2008 study that spanned 17 countries and more than 85,000 participants, results showed that the occurrence of chronic pain is higher among women than men. Other studies conducted in Europe and Asia on the prevalence of chronic musculoskeletal pain yielded similar results–with women experiencing a higher prevalence and intensity of pain. 

During the aging process, they also experience bone fractures, compressions and vertebral changes at a higher rate than men. Women are more prone to bone conditions, like scoliosis, osteoporosis and loss of bone mass. Any of these conditions can put women at a higher risk for developing chronic pain conditions as a result. It can also cause them to be more likely to break a bone during a fall, which adds to pain as well. 


  1. Abdominal Pain

According to the NIH, abdominal pain and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affect women three times more than men. IBS causes recurring abdominal pain along with other bowel issues. 


Chronic Pain Care For Everyone: Minivasive Pain and Orthopedics 

At Minivasive Pain, we have a dedicated staff of pain management specialists on site. No matter who you are or what the cause of your chronic pain may be, it is our mission to treat the causes with both the highest standards of care and quality to get you back to the joys of life. 

With several pain management centers throughout the Houston area, caring for your pain is what we do every day. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment, visit https://minivasivepain.com/contact-us/ or call us at (346) 800-6001.