Do Some People Have Higher Pain Tolerance?

Last Editorial Review: 9/8/2017

Ask the experts

Is it true that some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, is there a difference in pain tolerance or perception with gender?

Doctor's response

Pain is ultimately something that is perceived, and we have no objective way to measure it. Pain perception is the result of the processing of many factors within the body, so that the same pain stimulus can be perceived differently by different people and in different settings. One famous example was when soldiers injured during the invasion of Sicily during WWII were happy. Even though they had significant trauma, their joy at being out of the war overwhelmed everything. So, yes, depending upon the person and the setting, there are differences in pain perception. These differences are not determined by gender.

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Medically reviewed by Wayne S. Blocker, MD; Board Certification in Obstetrics and Gynecology


"Pain control in the critically ill adult patient"