Why women suffer from pain more often than men

Doctors have long known that women are much more likely than men to suffer from so-called functional pain syndromes that are not associated with injuries. For example, according to the calculations of American scientists, among patients with migraine and irritable bowel syndrome women are the third. Moreover, among patients with fibromyalgia (musculoskeletal pain), the proportion of women is 90%.

for a Long time experts could not understand why that is. It seemed that the female sex is itself a risk factor. In fact, this assumption eventually proved correct.

the Researchers from several research centers in the USA have discovered why women are more vulnerable to functional pain syndromes.

the Culprit turned out to be the neurohormone prolactin, known primarily as a stimulant of lactation (in the last months of pregnancy and after childbirth it promotes the secretion of colostrum, helps to his becoming a Mature breast milk).

In the course of work professionals searched for differences in the cells and nerves that send pain signals to the brain in males and females mice.

it Turned out, the last one of the isoforms of prolactin receptor selectively regulates sensitization (sensitivity) of nociceptors. It is the primary sensory neurons that are activated only by painful stimulus and conduct pain impulses.

Also, the authors note that intake of opioids causes in women the release of prolactin. It turns out, these painkillers in fact may increase functional pain syndrome. Similar effects were observed before, but scientists couldn’t explain.

in addition, it was found that in some cases the increased pain might be related to the initiating events. For example, the release of prolactin and exacerbation of pain can occur with stress.

“These triggering events can be very different — the intake of alcohol, fatigue, sleep disturbance. But stress is a common trigger,” said senior author Frank Porreca (Frank Porreca) from the University of Arizona.

According to his team, the findings will help to develop new methods of treating chronic pain in women.

For example, it is known that drugs-agonists of dopamine D2-receptor used in other diseases that restrict the release of prolactin and not cause addiction. Perhaps they are in combination with other classes of drugs will provide more effective treatment of functional pain syndrome, the researchers say.

Scientific article on the results of this work are presented in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

by the Way, earlier “Conduct.Science” (nauka.vesti.ru) reported that chronic pain occurs in men and women in different ways. And another interesting study showed that men fear pain more than women.

Text: To.Science