Kicked in the Crotch vs. Childbirth: The Great Debate

[ INTRO ] So what hurts more: being kicked in the crotch
or giving birth? If you’re a guy you’d likely argue strongly
for being kicked in the nards. Whereas many women would be inclined to argue
childbirth. But can science settle the debate once and
for all? Nope! … Or at least not yet. Basically everyone feels pain. But the experience is incredibly subjective. How you feel pain can be influenced by a ton
of different factors. And that’s why answering this question is
almost impossible. That’s not to say we haven’t made great
strides in our understanding of the neuroscience or physiology of pain. We now have tools like neuroimaging that let
us see what parts of the brain are used when we feel pain. We also have electroencephalography, also
known as EEG, that can measure the intensity of brain activity when we’re in pain. And there’s even the promise of blood tests
finding biomarkers for pain. However, many of these advances are still
very much in the early stages of research, so they still can’t actually tell us what
hurts more. But if we were gonna try and answer it, this
is what we’d need to figure out. One: We need to know how much it hurts. You’ve probably been asked by a doctor at
some point how much something hurts. They hold up a scale with emoji faces numbered
one to ten, and you try to translate their goofy expressions into what you’re actually
feeling. Because the thing about your pain is, only
you can feel it, so doctors need you to tell them. But as anyone who’s encountered this system
knows, it’s far from perfect. The science of measuring pain has a surprisingly
short history. In the 1940’s, a group of researchers from
Cornell University developed a device called the dolorimeter. This marvel of medical engineering essentially
just applied a controlled dose of heat. The instrument got as hot as 45 degrees Celsius,
and could cause serious burns. They then came up with a scoring system that
used a unit called a ‘dol’ to record the intensity of the pain. In nineteen fifty-one, the dolorimeter inventors
used their creation on patients to see how effective various pain meds were during childbirth. Strangely enough, this ended badly. At least one patient got so upset at being
poked with a burny probe that researchers had to lay off testing them. Which, I mean, they were being poked with
a burny probe while giving birth. So. The dolorimeter was largely abandoned soon
after. In its place, the familiar one to ten scale
was developed. In 1966, a pair of UK psychiatrists asked
patients to make a pencil mark on a ten centimeter line between the phrases “I have no pain at all” and “My pain
is as bad as it could possibly be.” They measured the distance to the pencil mark
and assigned a pain score from zero to ten. This and other efforts led to the pain scale. Sometimes these scales come with those grimacing
emoji faces, but they’re all pretty basic. And when it comes to evaluating and treating
pain, having a basic numerical scale doesn’t really cut it. Mostly because pain is complex and multidimensional,
and doesn’t really fit on a linear spectrum. Is it continuous or temporary? Stabby or dull? Is it stopping you from concentrating? And so on. The McGill Pain Questionnaire, introduced
in 1975, attempted to address this complexity. It was designed to capture all the dimensions
of pain, as well as its intensity. It’s been widely accepted by doctors, and
it’s still used today. It has almost eighty descriptors for pain
– like stabbing, radiating, shooting, and so on. But there are still some pretty big limitations
to it. Language is one of them. Like, how can you tell the difference between
one person’s ‘nagging’ pain and another person’s ‘annoying’ pain? Critics have also pointed out that the questionnaire
relies on a pretty advanced vocabulary, so the questionnaire might not work very well
for people who struggle with reading or writing. In fact, one meta analysis from 1990 found
that only 19 of the 78 descriptors were picked by more than twenty percent of the subjects. Another problem is that versions in other
languages, such as French or Japanese, may not have exact matches for the words in the
original English version. That makes it hard to compare different populations. Plus, very few of the other versions have
been thoroughly tested to see if they work as well as the English version. In short, relying on self-reports of pain
is kind of like playing those word games where you throw out words to complete a story. Sometimes the words you choose work, and the
sentence makes sense — but a lot of the time it’s complete nonsense. However, when you can see the whole sentence,
picking a word that fits is a no-brainer. So wouldn’t it be great if we could see
when someone’s in pain? A part of the brain that lights up like a
Christmas tree when you’ve just dumped a cup of hot coffee on yourself? Using functional magnetic resonance imaging,
otherwise known as fMRI, neuroscientists have identified a few parts of the brain – including the anterior cingulate cortex, thalamus
and insula – that light up on brain scans in response to pain. These areas together are known as the pain
matrix, and it has been suggested that they could serve as a measurable signature of pain. Some researchers have gone so far as to use
the pain matrix to prove that social pain, like being rejected, and physical pain can
be the same. But not all neuroscientists are on board. Some have called the validity of the pain
matrix into question. In a study published in 2016, researchers
scanned the brains of two people with congenital insensitivity to pain. Patients with this disorder can’t feel physical
pain. Their brains were compared to those of four
healthy participants. When these people were pricked with a pin,
the researchers found that similar areas of the brain lit up in both groups. In other words, the pain matrix is probably
responding to something other than just pain. That’s not to say that the pain matrix isn’t
involved in processing pain, but just because it lights up doesn’t actually
mean that someone is in pain. So answering the question ‘how much does
it hurt?’ is way more complicated than pointing to a number on a scale. And it’s even more complicated than having
a brain scan done to see how much your brain lights up when you’re kicked in the gonads
versus pushing out a baby. The second thing we’ll need to answer our
question of what hurts more is a way to compare pain experiences. This can be tricky. Especially since even comparing your own personal
pain experiences can be hard. Like, what hurts more: stubbing your toe or
being hung over? But since your average person won’t be able
to experience both giving birth and being kicked in the nards, we need to be able to compare levels of pain. And that’s a challenge because historically,
research has barely even looked at how women experience pain. Until recently, pain research has mostly excluded
women. Clinical trials tended to focus on white men,
viewing them as a default population to study. In 1977, an FDA guideline effectively banned
women of childbearing age from participating in many clinical trials because they were considered a “vulnerable
population.” They seemingly didn’t want to risk damaging
a fetus if a woman just so happened to become pregnant during a study. Even female mice have historically been excluded,
based on the argument that hormonal cycles would introduce too much variability. One analysis published in 1995 found that
almost eighty percent of animal studies of pain in the previous ten years had used only
male mice. This is despite the fact that the majority
of people who suffer from chronic pain are women. And historically, some researchers haven’t
even bothered to report what sex their rodents were. Even rodents can’t catch a break from gender
bias! But there really are observable differences
between how men and women feel pain. For example, one 2012 study examined medical
records from more than 11,000 patients reporting pain for a wide variety of conditions. It found that women consistently rated their
pain as more intense on the good old one to ten scale. Another study published in 2019 in the journal
Brain looked at neuropathic pain, a particular type of chronic pain. It found differences in gene expression in
the nerves of men and women with this type of pain. It’s also worth noting that most of these
studies have been done with cisgender individuals, or failed to account for transgender or nonbinary
people within their study population. So how people who don’t fall into the cisgender
category process and feel pain is still relatively unknown. One 2007 study involving 47 trans women and
26 trans men found that the men had fewer pain problems after they started taking testosterone. Conversely, the women were more likely to
report pain issues after hormonal transition. And this could be because hormones, like testosterone
and progesterone, have been shown to play a role in pain sensitivity and pain relief
— though other factors, including social ones,
couldn’t be ruled out. So way more research is needed into how and
why these differences exist. Until we know more about how different genders
experience pain, we can’t really address everyone’s pain properly. Plus, pervasive myths about how women handle
pain have endured well into the twenty-first century. For example, a 2018 review of the literature
found some researchers assume that women are inherently good at dealing with pain because
they’ve experienced menstruation or childbirth. Obviously, that’s not true. That same analysis also found that women are
more likely to be seen as overly sensitive or even hysterical, compared to men being
perceived as stoic. And this means women are more likely to be
ignored or undertreated for their pain. To make comparing pain even harder, race,
ethnicity and cultural differences have also been shown to play a role in how people experience
pain. A review published in 2012 showed that certain
non-white minorities in the US tend to be more sensitive to pain. For example, African-Americans participants
report greater pain sensitivity than white participants. Cultural factors may also play a role. For example, one 2009 study found that Asian
patients were more likely than other groups to try to conceal their cancer-related pain. And just like misconceptions about women,
racial biases also rear their head when it comes to assessment and treatment of pain. A study published in 2016 found that some
medical professionals may hold misconceptions about biological differences between black
people and white people that inform their medical judgments. Like assuming that black people have thicker
skin — which is nonsense. They also found that medical professionals
who believed in these myths rated black patients’ pain as lower and gave them less adequate
treatment. Research has consistently shown that black
Americans are frequently undertreated for pain in comparison to white Americans. In fact, some experts have suggested that
these attitudes have extended toward differences in the prescription of opioids to black and
white patients — and corresponding disparities in the way the
opioid epidemic has played out in both groups. With all that in mind, can we actually objectively
measure pain with no biases? Not yet — but researchers are trying. With advances in neuroscience it seems like
we’re getting closer to that holy grail. But as of right now there’s no one thing
that can objectively measure pain without bias. And maybe that’s the problem. We’re looking for one thing that will let
us objectively measure pain. But there’s so many things that go into
how pain feels that getting an accurate read on how much
pain someone is in might take a battery of tests and questionnaires to determine. Either way it seems the question of what hurts
more – being kicked in the crotch or childbirth – will
remain a scientific mystery. For now. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow, and a huge thank you to our patrons for making
what we do possible. If you want to support us directly and join
a community of super awesome super great people, check out [ outro]

100 thoughts on “Kicked in the Crotch vs. Childbirth: The Great Debate”

  1. Correction: The pain scale is numbered 0 to 10, not 1 to 10. The 0 gives patients the option to indicate they have no pain at all.

  2. Getting kicked in the balls hurts way more than childbirth. Want proof? Kick a guy for the first time in balls once and he will do everything he can to avoid the pain for the rest of his life. Women willingly have children over and over again.

  3. The answer is simple: Many women choose to have more than one child. I don't think any men will choose to get hit in the balls even once, however, I think women can handle pain better BECAUSE they are the ones that have to give birth to children. So perhaps it is even.

  4. 7:40
    Hey why didn't you mention how they left out ppl with 6 finders other such utra rare disesses and birth defects.

  5. I didn't know the title debate was a real debate? One happens at once and the other happens over hours. How are they comparable?

  6. ((((Kicked in the Crotch vs. Childbirth: The Great Debate))) This question is one of the stupiest issues I ever heard on a so called "Science channel" This is kind of disinfo to further the gap between genders. With this convolut of crap you showed the web what you are: a pc conformist, siencereligious spewer of satanic propaganda.

  7. ((((Kicked in the Crotch vs. Childbirth: The Great Debate))) This question is one of the stupiest issues I ever heard on a so called "Science channel" This is kind of disinfo to further the gap between genders. With this convolut of crap you showed the web what you are: a pc conformist, siencereligious spewer of satanic propaganda.

  8. Find a hermaphrodite and kick them in the Goules, then get said hermaphrodite pregnant and ask them which was more painful.
    Problem solved! 😁

  9. "Majority of people suffering…"
    Men are not allowed to express discomfort or worse caused by pain.
    If there is a nerve dying in your spine because you continue to do harmful work, if you are born with an illness that causes pain… no matter what, you are not allowed to tell, unless you have completly given up the hope to procreate.

    So we bite our teeth. There is no satisfying medical explanation why men should have a shorter lifespan, yet it is a fact.

  10. I'm biased cos I've only been kicked in the balls and not given birth, but I feel like being kicked in the balls is worse.

  11. I still feel sick thinking back at that time I had a kidney stone and the thought of waking up some night with another one.

  12. The most painful thing for the Chantards is clearly a video of a college educated female discussing gender related topics.

  13. The difference is simple. women often have multiple children. If you get kicked in the nuts, you NEVER want it to happen again.

  14. As someone who’s watched childbirth and and a dude getting kicked in the balls, I’m gonna go without a doubt, childbirth is more painful.

  15. wow, disappointing off topic clickbait. where was the debate?
    W:"I broke my leg and gave birth to two children, seperate occasions 😉 Childbirth was the more painful experience."
    M:"I also broke my leg and I was kicked in the crotch as an adult. the latter was more painful, but tooth root inflammation trumps both!"
    W:"wow, yeah, totally repressed that."

    Few painful experiences are bound to get worse over time with the promise to end in an unimaginable pain-peak, but to also make up with an endorphin rush afterwards. In most acute cases shock makes it work the other way around. I guess that influences the memory of the situation.

  16. Should be titled, "Yes, we are trying to Genderize Pain, not just Victimhood." Like Child Molestation was branded a MALE thing, we won't allow Male Teachers, but last year we had hundreds of Female Perpetrators, with the same sexism, that Women aren't capable of being Child Molesters… In cases of multiple victims of Female Perpetrators.

    God, I just don't understand why you hate Men so much.

  17. Idk about childbirth…but I had a natural spontaneous complete abortion (miscarriage) at 10 weeks and honestly it was a whole lot less painful than my gall bladder attack and way less than my sudden appendicitis that stretched over three days with no treatment. Going to find out how bad childbirth is in a few months so we'll see.

  18. Having the twins assaulted is a pain that every other male that witnesses the hit will feel it. They weren't meant to get hit, women were meant to give birth. Transgender is a lie, you as a scientist should be well aware there a only 2 genders that is determined by the reproductive organs you developed during gestation. A male who feels he is a woman is an overly feminine homosexual and a woman who thinks she is a man is overly masculine. Coupled with psychological disorders

  19. I don't think comparing the pain levels that result from a kick to the groin on a guy to that of a woman giving birth is ultimately fair. If we are going to compair a kick to the groin to anything it should be to a woman getting kicked in the crotch. Otherwise it's like saying it's an argument of what's worse, a throat punch on a guy or the hitting the funny bone on a gal. Regardless of gender, those differences are too vast to be remotely conclusive or fair.

  20. There's no debate. Growing a person inside your body and pushing that new creation through a tiny opening in your body which can take days, is a pain unmatched.

  21. Sadly, the pain doesn’t go away after childbirth. Unless the kick in the nuts requires the doctors to stitch up your ballsack back up, those poor women win this one.

  22. Both of my children were born in the home… Let me tell you guys, that whole childbirth thing is waaaay worse.

  23. I think we ought to leave gender, race, weight, hair color and anything else out of it. This video is stupid. And has a person who suffers from severe chronic pain I find it offensive.

  24. I don't believe I've ever scene a black person or black family on TV crying about their love on over dosing on opiods??

  25. i’ve been kicked in the balls.
    ive stomped on a screw, it scraped my bone, it had to be twisted out…

    the screw was far worse both on impact and after. theres your pain test.

  26. Why would trans-gender or "non-binary" genders make a difference? We are talking about BIOLOGY here, not how somebody "identifies".

  27. Why can't we compare pain using a common experience? E.g., "does it hurt more or less than a kidney stone?"

  28. There is NO DEBATE, just a very clear answer that a NUT SHOT is WORSE.
    (hear me out)
    You will never hear a man say, hey, kick me in the nuts again. Yet, women will most likely say let's have another child. Lololol

  29. Now the Government is rearing its head and interfering with the treatment of pain. Lots of people are killing themselves because they can't get adequate treatment.

  30. My mom said my sister was 12 hours of hard labor, while I was 2 hours and relatively easy. Child-birth seems to have too much variation to compare it to being kicked in the crotch.
    And as a guy who was unfortunately kicked down there, I am pretty sure it's not as bad as a typical childbirth.

  31. I mean dudes can recover quite fast after geting kicked in the balls, while after childbirth recovering takes longer. Also, death rates and duration of both should be taken into consideration. I say childbirth is more dangerous and painful.

  32. Observationally, as a woman who grew up with a lot of male friends who for some reason got some kind of hazing/bonding/sadistic joy out of hitting each other in the nuts and has also had 2 children with no pain medications I imagine that the level of pain is similar. The difference is that if a male wear to experience pain similar to childbirth they would have to be kicked in the nards every 5-20 minutes for several hours 😜

    As far as the actual moment of the child leaving the birth canal for anyone who is interested by that time you are so pumped full of hormones that it is just crazy intense and not even necessarily "painful." That just all gets back to the complexity of pain 🤷🏼‍♀️

  33. My assumption for why woman feel more pain than men is so they can have a better sense of their surroundings so they can assess if the baby would be harmed, that's why women feel much colder then men so the baby doesn't get injured.

  34. I hate when I am asked the 1 to 10 scale of pain how the hell do you know what a 10 feels like if it is your first time??

  35. I can say that I would rather have one or three days of intense pain (especially if its pain with a purpose) than a year of daily migraines (which I've also had) which are way less painful

    Pain is so subjective and everyone feels pain differently. Each woman feels the pain of labor differently. I imagine every person feels kidney stones differently too.

    Why are we sparring on which of us has it worse off? Shouldn't we simply acknowledge eachother's pain with compassion and stop being awful to each other? Why do we dismiss a person's pain because we think theirs isn't as bad as someone else's pain?

  36. I believe both are probably just as bad as the other in terms of pain. However, pain is DEFINITELY subjective. The funny bone sprain is a horrid pain to feel.

  37. I base my pain on an ear infection, which to date is THE most painful thing I've ever dealt with. People in comments keep bringing up kidney stones too. My mother also had shattered discs and said that's worse than childbirth, so… The argument is null and void. :'D

    >propping up gender and racial bias
    >using the exclusive "cis" slur
    >citing a study with less than 100 participants (plus self-reporting)
    >even more self-reporting studies
    >cherry-picking statements from news articles and not the data they cite

    Complaining about bias? Really? When you're tossing nothing but bias? This is why I don't trust science communicators and rely on their sources. Too bad the sources are 90% bunk or are misleading. Please, please, please, PLEASE don't just link the news article and instead link the documents they are being written about. This is science, don't give us Op-Eds.

  38. The future question is. Once we are able to measure real pain, those that are faking pain for opioids or those that the pain is in there head, how do we deal with that?

  39. I have been through the 0 to ten scale Ear drums busting and pinched leg nerve all peeps feel pain Child birth probably last longer

  40. Let me answer the question with an anecdote. Both getting kicked in the balls and childbirth are painful, but after a while a woman will say "let's have another". Almost no man will stand there legs spread and say "kick me again dear".

  41. Ask any woman that has given birth if they would do it again and the answer is not always, no. Ask any man that has been kicked in the ‘nads if they’d want to do it again and the answer will always be, no.
    Besides, kidney stones are worse than a kick in the ‘nads.

  42. I'm a guy, and I've experienced crotch kicks before, but child birth just seems like an absolute nightmare, especially when it tears, or so I can assume.

  43. I am female first off. I think getting kicked in the ball is more painful but the pain last for a lesser amount of time than giving birth would. But the pain for a woman takes hours and even days so as the body get weaker I'm guessing the pain is stronger?

  44. Honestly the worst pain I've experienced/experience with pain (bear in mind I have been kicked in the balls) was probably a sinus infection. Couldn't sleep, led to wierd pain induces waking dreams. Extremely disturbing.

  45. I always hate when they ask the pain scale question. Hospital visits are not always about PAIN.
    A much smarter question would be "How much impact does your problem have on your daily activities".

  46. I have experienced when doctors think that women are overreacting to pain. My older sister was over dosing on pain killers the doctors gave her because he body did not metabolize them. When she was going in and out of sleep and seizures due to this. Most of the doctors (most were men) said she was overreacting and being dramatic because she was a woman.

  47. The social factor is a big factor. The worst pain I've ever felt was biting down on gum with a tooth that had an exposed nerve, but I have severe social anxiety and I managed to walk 1/4 mile home before I collapsed to the floor inside because I didn't want to make scene in public lol

  48. Id say getting hit in the balls cause women where designed to give birth and men weren't designed to be kicked in the ball. It just doesnt last as long, Its like being stabbed as apposed to giving birth wich i assume is more like a slow continuous cut.

  49. once i hurt my back in accident, and while i was waiting for painkillers and my turn to have x-rays taken, i was thinking "it cant be anything serious, it definitely does hurt a lot, but it only hurts about as much as my period cramps :)"
    i found out that i had smashed three vertebrae into pieces, and that all those people telling me over the years that my cramps cant be that bad owe me a personal apology.

  50. Spending 2 weeks before realising your shoulder is out of joint. Dislocating all your toes by stretching your foot. Putting your hip back in after your gynae appointment.

  51. Every man knows that the pain lasted longer than just a couple mins. It’s lasted from 5th grade to senior year and it’s an everyday war. I remember being scared everyday and covering my middle parts. The worst ones are when they hit you without knowing called Nut Check. Every male has been through this war and like if you were part of the war👍

  52. Getting hit in the nuts is such an indescribable type of pain, definitely not a typical localized pain at point of impact. It's almost as if it triggers our bodies to go limp while grabbing for our meat sacks. It's not physically unbearable but more mentally unbearable and it leaves a dull ache that radiates throughout your entire body.

    Yah… that's the best I can do to describe when it happens to me

  53. My only 10+ on the pain scale thing was when I was 7 years old. A baby junebug crawled into my ear and made it's way to my eardrum where it started scratching and digging right into my eardrum to make a nest.

    It was the type of pain where I was uncontrollably bashing the side of my head of the wall because it actually provided a slight amount of relief.

  54. Kicked in the balls hurts more your not supposed to get kicked in the balls and you never say let’s do it again birthing is supposed to happen and woman usually say let’s do it again see the difference?

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