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Volume 14 , Issue 3
Summer 2000

Pages 169-184

Focus Article: Gender Differences in Pain

Thuan T. T. Dao, DMD, MSc, Dip Prostho, PhD/Linda LeResche, ScD

PMID: 11203754

A review of the literature on gender and clinical pain reveals a disproportionate representation of women receiving treatment for many pain conditions and suggests that women report more severe pain, more frequent pain, and pain of longer duration than do men. Gender differences in pain perception have also been extensively studied in the laboratory, and ratings of experimentally induced pain also show some sex disparity, with females generally reporting lower pain thresholds and tolerance than males. However, there is little consensus on whether these apparent differences reflect the way men and women respond to pain, differing social rules for the expression of pain, or biologic differences in the way noxious stimuli are processed. In this paper, our working hypothesis is that the higher prevalence of chronic orofacial pain in women is a result of sex differences in generic pain mechanisms and of as-yet unidentified factors unique to the craniofacial system. We will review the evidence concerning gender differences in the prevalence of pain conditions, with a focus on orofacial pain conditions. Evidence and hypotheses concerning biologic and psychosocial factors that could influence prevalence rates will also be discussed.

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