Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Not Feeling Each Other's Pain - washingtonpost.com

Not Feeling Each Other's Pain
Men and Women Hurt Differently -- and Some of The Difference May Really Be in Their Heads

By Francesca Lunzer Kritz
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, December 19, 2006

When I get a particularly nasty headache, I race for the ibuprofen bottle and down three 200-milligram tablets (a dose long ago approved by my doctor) and get on with whatever I was doing, comforted by the knowledge that I've taken action to dull the pain and that I will feel better soon. When my husband has a headache, he delays doing anything -- including telling me, for whatever comfort that might bring -- and succumbs to the ibuprofen (taking just two tablets) only when the pain is so severe he can't do much else.

Some might say our headache techniques are a manifestation of our quirky personalities -- and there may be some truth in that. But research presented at a University of Maryland Dental School conference this fall suggests my XX and my husband's XY chromosomes might also be partly to blame. While sex differences alone may not account for the variability of individual pain response, said keynote speaker Karen Berkley, a professor of neuroscience at Florida State University, growing research suggests that men's and women's nervous systems process pain information differently and act on it differently.


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