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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
Global Year Fact Sheets

Global Year Fact Sheets

18 Fact Sheets on topics ranging from obstetric pain to gender-based violence, are available in nine languages (English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Hindi, and Gujarati).

The International Association for the Study of Pain is happy to provide access to this year's Global Year fact sheets. Please contact us to inquire.

  • Women and Migraine
  • Differences in Pain Between Women and Men
  • Epidemiology of Pain in Women
  • Sex Differences in Pain - Basic Science Findings
  • Sex Hormones and Pain
  • Gender and the Brain in Pain
  • Pain During Pregnancy
  • Obstetric Pain
  • Dysmenorrhea: Contemporary Perspectives
  • Chronic Pelvic Pain
  • Endometriosis and its Association with Other Painful Conditions
  • Vulvodynia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS)
  • Sex and Gender Differences in Orofacial Pain
  • Pain in Women in Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV/AIDS)
  • Pain in Women in Developing Countries
  • Violence Against Women (Gender-based Violence)
  • Children with Chronic Pain: Sex and Gender Differences
Pain in Women

Previous Global Years

Access previous global year campaigns and relevant fact sheets, interviews, and more resources.

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