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Pain in Women

The ‘Real Women, Real Pain’ campaign aimed to empower women and raise awareness of pain issues affecting women worldwide.

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About this Global
Year Campaign

Why ‘Real Women, Real Pain’?

Every day millions of women around the world suffer from chronic pain but many remain untreated. Several reasons may explain why barriers to treatment still exist.  Psychosocial factors, such as gender roles, pain coping strategies and mood may influence how pain is perceived and communicated.

In addition, there may be a lack of acceptance or understanding of the biological differences between men and women that may impact how pain is perceived.  These psychosocial and biological factors, coupled with the economic and political barriers that still exist in many countries, have left millions of women living in pain without proper treatment.

Female Pain Issues

Female Pain Issues

Pain conditions affecting women have a significant global impact.  Yet, there is still a lack of awareness/recognition of pain issues affecting women. Chronic pain affects a higher proportion of women than men around the world; however women are less likely to receive treatment.  Research has shown that women generally experience more recurrent pain, more severe pain and longer lasting pain than men.

Many people are unaware that certain pain conditions are more prevalent in women than in men. For example, fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by chronic widespread pain, is significantly more prevalent in women (80-90% of diagnosed cases are women).1 Other conditions that disproportionately affect women include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), chronic pelvic pain and migraine headache. For more information on these and other pain conditions affecting women.


1. NIAMS. Questions and Answers about Fibromyalgia. Publication No. 04-5326. NIH; 2004.

Pain in Women
Pain in Women

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