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Major Surgeries more Painful for Men than Women, Study Finds

Update Date: Jun 04, 2014 02:54 PM EDT

Pain, whether it is physical or emotional, is subjective. In a new study, researchers examined people's levels of pain after undergoing different surgeries. They found that pain levels differed based on gender. The researchers reported that men experienced higher levels of pain post major surgeries whereas women felt more pain after smaller procedures.

"The influence of gender and sexes is a key issue of today's research in medicine. However, current literature in the field of perioperative medicine rarely focuses on this question," study co-author Dr. Andreas Sandner-Kiesling, of the department of anesthesiology & intensive care at the Medical University of Graz, Austria, said reported by Philly. "Our aim was to analyze a large population to find differences in postoperative pain perception in females and males

In this study, the researchers from Austria examined more than 10,000 patients with 42 percent of them being men and 58 percent women. The participants were from the University Hospitals of the Ruhr University of Bochum in Germany. The patients were all interviewed 24 hours after their surgeries regarding their procedure, the type of anesthesia used, pain level and well-being.

The researchers found that overall there were no differences in pain levels between male and female patients. When the researchers separated the sample based on the type of surgeries the patients had, they found differences in reported pain levels. Men who underwent major vascular and orthopedic surgery were 27 percent more likely to report moderate pain than women. Women, on the other hand, were 34 percent more likely to have higher levels of pain after minor procedures, such as biopsies, than men.

"The gender differences on pain perception are still heavily disputed, both in experimental and clinical fields," Dr. Sandner-Kiesling said according to BBC News. "Our data do not definitely clarify this issue, however, based on our findings it can be presumed that the type and severity of surgery may play a pivotal role, as females express higher pain scores after minor procedures, whereas males are more affected after major surgery."

The study's findings were presented at the Euroanaesthesia Conference.

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