What hurts men the most

How women and men experience pain differently

New, effective means are needed: 20 percent of people worldwide suffer from chronic pain. According to researcher Mogil, 70 percent of them are women. There are also gender differences when it comes to the effects of common remedies. "If you look at the serum level of morphine, the effectiveness in women is probably higher than in men," says expert Pogatzki-Zahn. Men need more of the substance.

On the other hand, many studies have shown that women suffer from more pain after surgery. "In practice, you have to dose similar painkillers for both sexes," says the pain specialist. In any case, the dosage in hospitals today is based on individual effectiveness. “So far, there is no formula in which one could enter data from women and men and read off the perfect dose,” says Pogatzki-Zahn. "We still know far too little about that."

Humans are endowed with opioid mechanisms that help them deal with physical distress. Scientists speak of endogenous, internally generated pain inhibition. Even injured, the person is still able to run away. “That lies in our evolutionary heritage,” says researcher Pogatzki-Zahn with conviction. Put simply: the hunters, who were equipped with a good pain inhibitor, were able to flee from the saber-toothed tiger despite injuries and father children. "Interestingly, this endogenous pain inhibition is much more pronounced in men than in women," says the expert. For women who did not hunt, it was just less relevant in terms of survival.