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Boy pain vs. girl pain

By Steve Korver Thursday, March 10, 2016 - 06:00
Blue balls vs. blue vulvas… Periods are like heart attacks … The problem with male mice … ‘Man flu’ is true … These news flashes and more in this week’s Sex in the Press.

Womb hysteria

Period pain is officially as bad as a heart attack – so why have doctors ignored it? The answer is simple’: “Traditionally men's problems have been prioritised over women's.”

“Men wait an average of 49 minutes before being treated for abdominal pain. For women, the wait is 65 minutes for the same symptoms,” says a recent study of hospitals. “It’s thought that this is because women are seen as exaggerating pain and being ‘dramatic’ due to sexist stereotypes.”

“Indeed, the word ‘hysterical’, itself stems from hystericus, meaning ‘of the womb’, indelibly linking how society has linked wombs with overreaction, incredibility and instability.”

So the medical establishment has tended to ignore menstruation. The result: little research has been done into period pain prevention or relief. Of course, if men experienced period pains, a lot would be different (as illustrated in last year’s hilarious viral video ‘‪If men had periods – manpons’).

But perhaps there’s hope: ‘Cannabis-based tampons claim to permanently relieve your cramps’.

On blue balls and bluer vulvas

“As physical phenomena go, ‘blue balls’ seems to get undue attention, particularly when it comes to the dangers of letting it go untreated, so to speak,” according to ‘"Blue balls" is also a problem for vaginas – here's how it works’.

‘Blue balls’ is “officially known as epididymal hypertension, which occurs when the testicles fill with fluid and blood rushes to the genital regions. It means a man's body is getting ready for sex, which may leave him feeling in pain if orgasm and ejaculation don't ensue.”

But this pain is not fatal and has no long-term side effects. It’s merely “squirmy and uncomfortable”.

And females experience the exact same discomfort. Their bodies also prepare for sex: “Blood rushes to their genitals, increasing blood pressure, and causing the vulva, uterus, and ovaries to swell.”

So with research suggesting that only 57 per cent of women have an orgasm most or every time they have sex, “shouldn't ‘blue vulvas’ be even more of a thing than ‘blue balls’?”

Sex and science

Then there’s the problem with lab mice.

Only 15 per cent of biomedical studies use rodents of both sexes. “Of those that did, 80 per cent established there were sex-specific results. In other words, males and females responded differently,” according to ‘Why sex matters in science’.

“This raises questions about whether the drug design and dose recommendations that originate from single-sex animal studies serve the entire population or just half of it.”

“The gender bias favouring male test animals originates because historically females were considered less stable or reliable due to their estrous cycle – the rodent equivalent of the human menstrual cycle. Unlike every 28 days in humans, rodents cycle every two or three days.’

Plus, male mice are bigger than female mice and are therefore easier for attaching electrodes.

In short: “Female participation in scientific research needs to increase dramatically, if discoveries are to benefit all of humanity.”

‘Man flu’ true

Okay, so men are obviously privileged whiners.

But when it comes to the flu, men might actually suffer more than women, according to ‘Battle of the sexes: female sex hormone weakens flu virus for women, not men’.

“It's well-known the immune system is influenced by sex hormones. The female sex hormone, estrogen, tends to increase inflammation, while the male hormone, testosterone, decreases it. Men are also more likely to get infections while women tend to have better responses to vaccines.”

Now a study has shown that estrogen also has antiviral properties against the influenza A virus – aka the flu. “These effects could actually protect women from the more aggressive symptoms of the illness.”

Poetic justice?

How do you deal with pain? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Facebook. If you have any questions, visit our discussion board.

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