Abstract of the chapter

Sexual dimorphism in pain perception

Eduardo Sánchez Pérez & Guillermo Rodríguez Bernal

In recent years we have witnessed an exponential emergence of work on the different perception of pain in men and women. Not only the prevalence of painful clinical pathologies is different according to sex, but also the neural mechanisms of pain pathways are different. The psychosocial issues surrounding the perception of pain also vary, from the response to an examiner of the opposite sex to the strategies men and women employ to overcome pain. All these sex-related differences seem largely motivated by sexual hormones. Finally, the sexual dimorphism in pain perception may have an evolutionary explanation, since the two major types of pain (somatic vs. visceral) may have had different functions according to sex during the evolution of humanity.