According to a scientist, the needs and biological requirements of women must be given greater consideration in pain research. “Women have been excluded from drug studies for a long time, even though they are more often affected by pain disorders than men,” said pain researcher Daniela Rosenberger from the University Hospital in Münster to the dpa.

Some painkillers work differently in women, which can lead to intolerance or incorrect dosage. “The female body absorbs medicine differently, distributes it differently and breaks it down differently than the male organism,” explained the anesthesiologist in the run-up to the congress of the German Pain Society and the German Migraine and Headache Society in Mannheim from the 18th to 20th October 21.

Detectable with paracetamol

The different effectiveness can be demonstrated, for example, with the common painkiller paracetamol. Hormonal differences can also affect the perception of pain: in men, testosterone reduces pain sensitivity, while studies have shown that progesterone and estrogen tend to increase pain in women. There is still a significant need for research in this area.

Many diagnoses were based more on characteristics that typically occur in men. This applies, for example, to the signs of a heart attack, which is often associated with severe pain behind the chest radiating into the left arm. What is generally less known is that a heart attack in women can also be accompanied by nausea and upper abdominal pain.

Rosenberger would like to see pain research in universities and pharmaceutical companies that includes all genders and includes individual risk profiles such as general health, age, weight and previous illnesses. “The standard question about the individual’s level of pain on a scale of zero to ten falls far short.”

According to the two specialist societies, millions of people in Germany suffer from persistent or recurring pain. On average, it took ten years until the correct diagnosis was found. Whether due to a herniated disc or migraine, after operations or tumor diseases, due to wear and tear, emotional stress or nerve problems – the causes of pain disorders are diverse. The consequences can be serious, as Rosenberger emphasized. Many of those affected are restricted in their movement, sleep poorly, can no longer do their work or become socially isolated.

Pain Society