Which hurts more: giving birth or getting kicked in the balls? While most men wince at just the idea of being kicked in the family jewels, any mother will probably assure you that pushing something the size of a watermelon through a coin-sized hole creates an agony that men are incapable of imagining. The age-old question has been investigated by the people at AsapSCIENCE, who have made a handy video explaining how pain works. The key to understanding pain is to understand how nociceptors work: they are the pain sensors that transmit information to the brain to tell you that you’ve been hurt, and “nociceptors will only fire once a certain pain threshold has been passed.” Those that respond quickly produce a sharp pain; those that respond slowly produce dull aches.
If you’ve ever wondered why a swift kick to the testicles produces sharp pain, nausea, sweating and increased blood pressure, it’s because testicles are basically internal organs that have migrated out of the body cavity, and as such are connected to nerves in the abdomen and the vagus (linked to the brain’s vomit center). But the distention of the uterus that happens durng labor also triggers nociceptors and produces the same sort of visceral pain. Plus, the average labor last eight hours. So both experiences are painful. However, pain is subjective, and attempts to measure it objectively are difficult. “Pain is not a stimulus: it’s an experience that’s different for everybody,” explains AsapSCIENCE. The upshot is that while both giving birth and being kicked in the testicles hurt a lot, as to which hurts more, it’s probably a draw. However, few men who have been kicked in the balls would want a repeat experience, while a woman who has experienced the agony of childbirth once may be happy to go through it again. Explain that, Science!