Ovarian hormones and chronic pain: A comprehensive review : PAIN

Journal Logo

Comprehensive review

Ovarian hormones and chronic pain: A comprehensive review

Hassan, Samaha,*; Muere, Abib; Einstein, Gillianb,c

Author Information
Pain 155(12):p 2448-2460, December 2014. | DOI: 10.1016/j.pain.2014.08.027


Most chronic noncancer pain (CNCP) conditions are more common in women and have been reported to worsen, particularly during the peak reproductive years. This phenomenon suggests that ovarian hormones might play a role in modulating CNCP pain. To this end, we reviewed human literature aiming to assess the potential role of ovarian hormones in modulating the following CNCP conditions: musculoskeletal pain, migraine headache, temporal mandibular disorder, and pelvic pain. We found 50 relevant clinical studies, the majority of which demonstrated a correlation between hormone changes or treatments and pain intensity, threshold, or symptoms. Taken together, the findings suggest that changes in hormonal levels may well play a role in modulating the severity of CNCP conditions. However, the lack of consistency in study design, methodology, and interpretation of menstrual cycle phases impedes comparison between the studies. Thus, while the literature is highly suggestive of the role of ovarian hormones in modulating CNCP conditions, serious confounds impede a definitive understanding for most conditions except menstrual migraine and endometriosis. It may be that these inconsistencies and the resulting lack of clarity have contributed to the failure of hormonal effects being translated into medical practice for treatment of CNCP conditions.

© 2014 International Association for the Study of Pain

Full Text Access for Subscribers:

You can read the full text of this article if you:

Access through Ovid