Man flu? It was probably real flu: Turns out women aren't better at tolerating pain than men

Sarah Spickernell
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A popular theory is that men aren't as good at tolerating pain as women (Source: Getty)
For all the times you've been accused of having “man flu”, it was probably completely unfair - the notion that men are less able to tolerate physical pain and illness than women is unfounded, according to researchers at the University of Málaga.
By looking at levels of physical suffering among 400 men and women being treated for similar ailments across a number of primary care centres, they found that tolerance of physical suffering is to do with the individual and not their gender.
This contradicts a number of clinical trials that have already indicated differences between the genders when it comes to susceptibility to pain through illness, effectiveness of medications and recovery after anaesthetic. On top of this, it is a popular theory that women tolerate pain better than men – hence the existence of the term “man flu”.
Published in The Journal of Pain, the researchers describe tolerance of pain as being directly determined by an individual's resilience, or ability to overcome adverse circumstances.
"More resilient individuals tend to accept their pain, that is, they tend to understand that their ailment is chronic and they stop focusing on trying to get the pain to disappear, to focus their energy on enhancing their quality of life, despite the pain," said Carmen Ramírez-Maestre, main author of the study.
"In this regard," she continued, "patients who are able to accept their pain feel less pain, they are more active on a daily basis and have a better mood".
But there's no smoke without fire, and it seems that by fearing pain men are their own worst enemies, since this can intensify their suffering in a way that women manage to avoid.
"This fear was only related to a greater degree of pain in the samples of men" Ramírez-Maestre concluded.

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