Men can tolerate more pain than women and are less likely to react to it because they want to appear macho, researchers have found.
Gender stereotypes mean men tend to act stoically when they are hurt whereas women show more sensitivity, according to a study by Leeds Metropolitan University.
Pain scientist Dr Osama Tashani, who recruited 200 British and Libyan volunteers to inflict pain on, said: "Traditionally, high levels of stoicism are associated with men and high levels of sensitivity are associated with women.
"Some ethnic groups are described as more stoic, while others are viewed as more free in expressing their pain behaviour.
"We did not detect differences in pain unpleasantness."
Dr Tashani said men had higher pain thresholds and reported less pain intensity than women irrespective of nationality.
British volunteers could not endure as much pain as Libyan participants but were more willing to report it.
However, reactions based on gender stereotypes were more pronounced in Libya than the UK, suggesting gender and culture both play a part in how people cope with discomfort.
Those who took part in the study were jabbed in the hand with a 1cm-wide blunt tip and had their blood supply to a raised hand restricted.
Scientists monitored sensitivity and endurance and willingness to report pain.
The two-year study, which researchers claim is the first of its kind, has been published in the European Journal of Pain.Suggest a correction