When It Hurts, Gender Matters


Feb. 18, 2002 — In the battle of the sexes, there are some real differences among the casualties.

Men and women experience pain differently. Women are more likely to be stricken with painful conditions like migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, knee pain, certain types of spinal pain, and chronic facial pain. But that doesn’t always mean these conditions get treatment.

“One in five women lives with migraine headaches, the condition that seems to show the clearest influence of hormones. Researchers are also studying the possibility that clinical trials lacked vital information about dosage and side effects relevant to women.

For example, research has shown that certain pain-relieving drugs called kappa opiates, such as antihistamine.

  • Posicor, a cardiovascular drug.
  • Hismanol, an antihistamine.
  • Propulsid, a gastrointestinal drug.
  • “There is clearly a need for major pharmaceutical houses and research institutions to design clinical trials that take into account women’s unique needs,” Young says.