Why Are You Less (or More) Tolerant of Pain?

  1. Some women are more pain tolerant because they have more production of the internal compounds that control pain, happiness, reward feelings, and even addictive behaviors.
  2. The OPRM1 gene controls the production protein called the mu (μ) opioid receptor.
  3. Specifically we can make our own opioids and those work by fitting like a key into receptors which then activate their physiology.
  4. When a body’s natural opioid is bound to cells of the nervous system the feelings of pain relief are triggered.
  5. The nervous system receptor is called the μ opioid receptor was the first opioid receptor to be discovered. It is the primary receptor for commonly prescribed pain medications such as oxycodone, fentanyl, buprenorphine, methadone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine, as well as illegal opioid drugs such as heroin.
  6. Those women who have gene defects in their OPRM1 gene won’t be able to respond as well, and are both less tolerant to pain and more susceptible to becoming addicted.
  7. There are other factors that interact with the gene variations, so it’s not a simple issue, but none the less it can account for one reason some of us are more, and some of us are less, tolerant of pain.

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Suzanne Trupin, MD, Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and owner of Women's Health Practice, Hada Cosmetic Medicine, and Hatha Yoga and Fitness

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