An Austrian study involving more than 10,000 people found that men experience more pain after major surgery, while women report feeling more pain following minor procedures, such as biopsies.
"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 in a university news release.
"Our aim was to analyze a large population to find differences in postoperative pain perception in females and males," Sandner-Kiesling explained.
The patients involved in the four-year study were interviewed 24 hours after surgery. Of the patients surveyed, 42 percent were men and 58 percent were women. They were asked about their operation, the anesthesia they received and their pain and well-being.
Although gender didn't have an effect on pain after surgery overall, when the researchers grouped the patients with similar types of surgeries they found it did play a significant role.
The study, which was scheduled to be presented Tuesday at the Euroanaesthesia meeting in Stockholm, revealed that men were 27 percent more likely to have more moderate pain after major vascular and orthopedic surgery. Meanwhile, women were 34 percent more likely to report more pain after minor procedures.
"The gender differences on pain perception are still heavily disputed, both in experimental and clinical fields. 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," the study authors wrote.
Research presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about controlling pain after surgery.