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Why do I have such a low pain threshold compared to my sister? © Dan Bright

Why do I have such a low pain threshold compared to my sister?

Published: 28th February, 2022 at 04:00
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Your threshold for experiencing pain, and tolerance for that pain, can vary depending on a range of factors.

To answer this question, we need to ask several more. The first of which is: do you mean pain ‘threshold’, or pain ‘tolerance’? Because they’re different things.


Your pain threshold is the point where a sensation (temperature, pressure, the spiciness of food and so on) crosses a line, going from being innocuous to causing you to experience actual pain. The extent to which you can withstand and endure the pain you’re experiencing, while continuing to function, is your pain tolerance.

It could be that your sister has a lower pain threshold than you, but is hence more used to dealing with it, so has a relatively higher tolerance. Also, is your sister older or younger? And are you her sister, or her brother?

Pain thresholds and tolerance are things where age, sex and other factors have a significant impact. For instance, it’s regularly assumed that women have much higher pain tolerance than men because they can experience childbirth. But research shows that, while women often report experiencing more pain than men, their pain tolerance increases dramatically during pregnancy and labour, due to the many significant physiological and hormonal changes they undergo as a result of the process.

Overall, someone’s ability to experience, process and endure pain is determined by many, constantly shifting, factors. It’s hard to say how many of these apply to your sister. But there’s no guarantee that they always will.

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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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