MEN can tolerate more pain than women and are less likely to react to it because they want to appear macho, according to researchers in Yorkshire.
A study by a Leeds Metropolitan University academic found that gender stereotypes mean men tend to act stoically when they are hurt whereas women show more sensitivity.
The research was carried out by scientist Osama Tashani, who recruited 200 UK and Libyan volunteers who were inflicted with pain.
Those who took part in the study were jabbed in the hand with a 1cm-wide blunt tip and had their blood supply to a raised hand restricted.
Scientists monitored sensitivity and endurance to the pain along with willingness to report pain during the tests
Dr Tashani said men had higher pain thresholds and reported less pain intensity than women irrespective of nationality.
UK volunteers could not endure as much pain as Libyan participants but were more willing to report it.
Reactions based on gender stereotypes were more pronounced in Libya than the UK, suggesting gender and culture both play a part in how people cope with discomfort.
Dr Tashani said: “Traditionally, high levels of stoicism are associated with men and high levels of sensitivity are associated with women.
“Some ethnic groups are described as more stoic, while others are viewed as more free in expressing their pain behaviour.
“We did not detect differences in pain unpleasantness.
“There have been no previous studies that have compared pressure pain threshold between white British individuals and other ethno-cultural groups. We found that Libyans had higher pressure pain thresholds and pain intensity and unpleasantness ratings during the test.
“However, our failure to detect interactions between sex and ethnicity suggests that sex differences in pain sensitivity responses were not affected by ethnicity.”