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How does estrogen affect pain?

Dr. Daniel G. Amen, MD
Psychiatrist (Therapist)

A study in the Journal of Neuroscience tested pain sensitivity in women at different times during their menstrual cycle, first during their period when estradiol is at its lowest and then when their estradiol levels were at their highest. The women in the study were subjected to a controlled amount of pain and asked to rate the level of their discomfort. At low levels of estradiol the women reported feeling much more pain than when the hormone was at its highest. The implication is that when your estrogen levels are low, such as during menopause or during the premenstrual or menstrual phase of your cycle, you are likely to feel pain more acutely, which is also likely true for emotional pain. Just one more reason a smart man is especially sensitive at this time!

Dr. Dawn Marcus
Neurologist

Estrogen affects neurons by actually increasing the numbers of dendritic spines and synapses, making communication between neighboring neurons easier. (Didn't you already know women are great communicators?) This enhanced communication network is thought to also make sending pain messages easier, which may explain why women are more sensitive to pain than men.

The Woman's Migraine Toolkit: Managing Your Headaches from Puberty to Menopause (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

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The Woman's Migraine Toolkit: Managing Your Headaches from Puberty to Menopause (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

Migraines are a common, controllable type of headache that affects one in every six women, more than 20 million in the United States alone. The Woman’s Migraine Toolkit helps readers take charge of...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.