Pain is the Leitmotiv of Woman’s Health Issues

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Women experience unique health issues and conditions, from menstruation, pregnancy and menopause to gynaecological conditions, such as uterine fibroids and pelvic floor disorders, to breast cancer and osteoporosis. While the latter health conditions affect women only, some other conditions also affect men even if they mainly affect women or affect them more severely. Women are more likely than men from a heart attack and are more likely to show signs of depression and anxiety; the effects of sexually transmitted diseases can be more serious in women; osteoarthritis affects more women than men and women are more prone to urinary tract problems.

Pain is the leitmotiv of a woman’s health issues. As women have always and will continue to play a central role in society, adequate pain diagnosis and treatment in women should be a central objective of health care providers at all levels. There is a growing body of literature that indicates that women are more likely than men to be undertreated for their pain. It appears that gender affects not only pain perception, pain coping and pain reporting, but also pain-related behaviours, including the use of healthcare and social welfare systems. It is also probable that men and women differ systematically in their responses to pain treatments.

Pain affects men and women differently. While the sex hormones oestrogen and testosterone certainly play a role in this phenomenon, psychology and culture may also account for differences in how men and women receive pain signals. It is thought that women recover more quickly from pain, seek help more quickly for their pain, and are less likely to allow pain to control their lives. They are also more likely to marshal a variety of resources: coping skills, support and distraction, with which to deal with their pain. However, given the specific characteristics of pain in females, women should not be left alone, and great political and professional attention together with concrete answers should be given to the issues of pain in women.

The Pain in Woman 2015 Congress aims to gather international experts in pain and women’s health issues in order to sensitize health operators, academics, researchers and clinicians to the issue of pain in women. The initiative will embrace some of the representative painful women’s health issues and conditions. It will discuss these conditions in the order in which they may appear throughout a woman’s life, starting with menstruation, then pregnancy and menopause on to gynaecological conditions. Therefore topics will include epidemiology of women’s pain and future objectives in women’s pain treatments, pain and sex hormone issues, menstruation and pain, parturition and post-operative pain, chronic pain syndromes like fibromyalgia, pelvic and bladder pain, and gynaecological cancers and pain syndromes in elderly women such as orthopaedic pathologies and osteoporosis.