'MythBusters' confirms whether women tolerate pain better than men

On the April 28th episode of Discovery’s MythBusters, Adam and Jamie enlist test subjects to test two pain myths: can women handle more pain than men and are redheads more prone to pain than everyone else? After the jump, the answer to the first question.

In case you can’t watch the video: Women win! On average, we can hold our hand in a bowl of one-degree ice water for longer, meaning we tolerate pain better. Still, don’t think this means a woman can’t have an epidural if she wants one. (My brother-in-law thought my sister could handle child birth with a “good book.”)

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  • Moe

    Woman can tolerate pain, no wonder they can watch the Twilight movies!

    • Margaret

      Thanks for the Friday afternoon laugh Moe!

      • Zeddicus zu’l zorander

        HA!! good one, but seriously, it is obvious women can take it – look at the Mord Sith

      • Lou

        you make me laugh

    • Jeff

      Amen brother

  • Nerwen Aldarion

    Ahhh Mythbuster, my go to when there is nothing else on show. Love the explosions and all the useless trivia. Where else could I learn that a duck’s quack can echo? That cola can remove rust and that eating a poppy seed bagel can cause a false positive on a drug test. Great show

    • springs

      I learned that eating a poppy sead bagel can cause a false positive from Seinfeld (although I think they used a muffin).

    • Coyote

      You’d know the poppy problem if you watched Seinfeld. Elaine tested positive from eating a poppy seed muffins.

  • Jess

    I would assume that we can handle pain better because of a little thing called childbirth. just a guess though. lol

    • Ceballos

      Of course the women win!

      In fact, the whole childbirth issue is the reason I’ll never pressure my SO about having kids…I mean, there’s no way in hell I would every go through THAT, so it’d be a jerk move for me to just expect her to do it. :)

      • Catherine

        Are you kidding? If women wouldn’t want children just because of the pain of childbirth, there would’t be a lot of us out here. It’s just a rough moment and that’s it. Stomach flu is much worse.

      • Ceballos

        Oh, I don’t know about that…I’ve had the stomach flu, and childbirth still looks ever so slightly more painful to me.

        I don’t think we’re saying different things: basically, I’m a wimp who would never, EVER do something you all do naturally.

      • Ld

        I’ve got to agree with Catherine, stomach flu is worse.
        That said, I also wasn’t surprised by the result, because childbirth is not the nicest thing to go through. I’d expect women to have a higher tolerance of pain.

      • Tess

        wtf you guys. I had one of the worse cases of stomach flu. The puking was just as painful as cramps (which leave me doubled over). I’m sure childbirth is worse than cramps.

      • chelsea

        ok guys you obviously know nothing, seriously child birth is so much worse than the flu. i had h1n1 and namonia at the same time and almost died but thats nothing compaired to the pain of giving birth to a kid i would know

    • Quirky

      I heard a comedian once say that if men had to give birth to children, then there would be only 8 people left on the planet.

      • orville

        And birth control would be passed out like candy….

      • T

        Doesn’t make sense. First of all, “men” who give birth wouldn’t be “men” so it’s a paradox.

        Second, “tolerance” is irrelevant as it’s not a choice

    • T

      Men have more of the protein GIRK2 which makes them more resistant to pain.

      They have to be more resistant cuz they have to fight. Women get endorphins during childbirth and STILL whine about the pain

      • eipps

        Nice attempt there Nimrod. So where is that GIRK2 in these experiments? And of course, men get endorphins too for pain. They just don’t get those special endorphins saved for when their vagina and pelvic floor is ripped open to produce children. For some reason.

  • Sarah D

    Your brother in law should have his junk slammed in a car door.

    • springs

      You should watch Weeds. They slam junk in a desk drawer. Just sayin…

  • Meagan

    That’s not really the best test to prove or disprove this myth. Women are more prone to vasospastic disorders that decrease the blood flow in the extremities so their hands can be naturally colder anyway.

    • Catherine

      Yes, this. Women don’t have as great of circulation in the extremities as men do. The reason has everything to do with reproduction. Men need blood in the extremities to reproduce and women need blood in the trunk of the body to keep the baby warm in the belly (so we don’t circulate it as well/much to our limbs).

    • Mel

      Does that mean they tolerate extreme cold better? My hands are always cold but I cannot tolerate the freezing cold very well (I am more tolerant of hot temperatures). Also there is Pain associated with freezing cold. No woman’s hands are naturally one degree cold. But there are also different types of pain other than those associated with cold but I doubt they would want to start stabbing people.

  • ocnlvr83

    My mom had me and my sister do this, except we were holding an ice cube. I think I lasted a minute.

  • Sara

    Redheads are actually MORE tolerant of most types of pain. We’re more sensitive to thermal pain (burns, frostbite) but can take more of other kinds.

    • Catlag

      I would need Meagan or Catherine to verify that!

    • RedHyde

      I’m a redhead too, and have a much higher tolerance for pain then most of my other friends, who arn’t redheads. I’ve had two kids, one w/epidural and one with out. While it was painful, I think I handled much better then alot of people.

  • Amelia

    It’s a good thing they didn’t test this with me, because I’m a downright wuss.

  • Terri

    Childbirth isn’t a fair comparison on pain. That pain gives us something to look forward to. I can handle pain with a purpose much better than a regular old injury. I fell down the stairs and dislocated my knee a few years back and the pain was so bad that I get faint trying to remember the event. I would rather have another baby than repeat the fall and have to put my own knee back into place.

    • MsSuniDaze

      That’s true. Childbirth pain has an end goal. You know the major pain will end once you have the baby. Plus at the hospital you have pain control. Even after having my daughter though…the worst pain I ever had was a tooth abscess. There was no happy end to that pain…other than not taking my tooth out with an ice skate. However, I think the proof that women can tolerate pain more is the fact we will gladly do it all over again.

      • T

        Scientific studies prove men have more pain tolerance because they have more GIRK2 but besides that it’s a fact that women get endorphins and drugs during childbirth which help them handle it and even then they say it’s the worst thing in the world. It’s actually pretty ironic as they keep saying how unbelievably painful it is a proof that they CAN tolerate it! It’s basically arguing that they can’t tolerate it and therefore it proves that they can.

  • Marianne

    It’s really interesting, but I wonder if they did more tests, than just the freezing water. Then again what could they really do to cause pain without their insurance companies getting their panties in a twist?

  • LisaMama

    This is not news — I had natural childbirth TWICE and survived just fine. My husband gets the sniffles and is in bed all day. No contest.

  • annie

    I think it is amazing the amount of pain that a woman can tolerate. I don’t think we even notice how well we tolerate it until it reaches the peak where we can no longer tolerate it.

  • Don Thomas

    Crap I was hoping that Mythbusters was going to get the nipple clamps out to test this theory. I’m just saying, that red head + nipple clamps = ratings out the roof.

    Daddy like him some red head action…

  • Big Boned

    I’ve always known that fact! I can’t imagine how a lady can take me inside of her without screaming in frigging pain, it’s not always the greatest thing to have a monster down there because I have had potential mates back down when they saw the size of my one eyed monster–not cool and the worst thing is there is no penis reduction surgery like there is for an over-endowed woman with back paid. Don’t think it’s all that when you see me in the locker room, be glad that you’re not like me. That’s no sheet.

  • William

    Well recent studies have all shown that men handle pain much better than women. When it comes to cold women would do better because they have more fat in their body. Women scream in pain for nonsense all the time. Women produce alot of estrogen during childbirth which acts like a painreliever. So really, men do handle pain better if you care to look it up.

    • randomshat

      False. Estrogen does not relieve pain at all lol. It’s endorphins released during pregnancy that relieve the pain of childbirth. Studies establish men have higher pain tolerance due to higher GIRK2 levels and because they interpret it logically versus emotinally for women.

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