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Whether interventions that decrease pain sensitivity and enhance pain inhibition in women ultimately improve their clinical pain outcomes is an area of research that deserves additional attention in the future.

Keywords: sex differences, pain sensitivity, inhibition, depressive symptoms, sleep Common chronic pain conditions that are more prevalent in women than in men include migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, temporomandibular joint disorder, and pain associated with rheumatic diseases.

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Doing so can help ensure more accurate effect-size estimation of any resultant sex differences.Depressive symptoms and sleep quality are two clinically relevant examples of psychological and behavioral factors, respectively, that have well-documented relationships with clinical pain.Methods Overview Data from this study were combined with the baseline data from a separate study that evaluated the influence of intranasal oxytocin on experimental pain sensitivity, endogenous pain inhibition, and mood states.Inclusion criteria for the two studies were identical, as were the pain testing procedures.This study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki ethical principles for medical research.

Each protocol was approved by the University of Alabama at Birmingham Institutional Review Board, in accordance with ethical research conduct guidelines.Further, these sex differences persist even after male-specific and female-specific disorders (eg, male urologic and female gynecologic) are excluded from analyses.Increased pain sensitivity and disruption of endogenous pain inhibitory processes have been hypothesized as potential mechanisms that may account, at least in part, for the greater prevalence and severity of chronic pain in women compared with men.Inclusion criteria for participation included 1) age between 19–45 years, 2) no ongoing chronic pain problems, 3) no episodes of acute pain within 2 weeks prior to study participation, 4) no diagnosis of hypertension or use of medications for blood pressure, 5) no circulatory disorders, 6) no history of cardiac events, 7) no history of metabolic disease or neuropathy, 8) no current use of prescription medications, including analgesics, tranquilizers, antidepressants, or other centrally acting agents, 9) no diagnosed mental health disorders, 10) no current pregnancy, 11) no liver or kidney disease, and 12) no disorders involving the neuroendocrine system.Sessions were to be rescheduled if any participant reported use of alcohol, opioid pain medications, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in the 24 hours prior to their appointment; however, this was not necessary for any participant.Using quantitative sensory testing (QST) in laboratory settings, researchers have tested sex differences in response to experimental pain stimuli using unidimensional measures of pain sensitivity (eg, pain threshold and tolerance) as well as dynamic protocols of pain inhibition, such as conditioned pain modulation (CPM) tasks.