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Q: Comparing pain of passing a kidney stone vs. giving birth ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Comparing pain of passing a kidney stone vs. giving birth
Category: Health
Asked by: pkp-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 22 Nov 2002 15:50 PST
Expires: 22 Dec 2002 15:50 PST
Question ID: 112841
My father passed a kidney stone eariler this week. He has been told
that passing a kidney stone and giving birth are the two most painful
conditions one can experience. He would like to find someone who has
experienced both passing a kidney stone w/o pain medication and also
giving birth w/o pain medication to have their opinion on which was
worse & why. As an answer I will accept the opinion of someone (such
as a researcher or spouse/family member/friend of a researcher) who
has experienced both, or a published account of someone comparing the
two experiences.
Subject: Re: Comparing pain of passing a kidney stone vs. giving birth
Answered By: kriswrite-ga on 22 Nov 2002 16:20 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi pkp~ 

Ah! The age-old argument about whether a kidney stone is as difficult
to "give birth to" as a child! It's been the topic of many a heated
debate--particularly between men and women. The ladies would generally
have us believe that giving birth is *by far* more painful, while the
men folk like to insist that passing a kidney stone at *least* weighs
in evenly.

Well, I have a relative who has both given birth (repeatedly) and has
had kidney stones. Her reply when asked which is more painful is a
resounding and unhesitating:
"Giving birth." Kidney stones don't even come close, as far as she is
concerned. While some men may say that passing a kidney stone is worse
for a man, I'm doubtful that makes sense medically. After all, the
hole is equally small in men *and* women.

Browsing the Internet, I found an enormous amount of material on this
subject matter, mostly offering personal experiences. According to the
Medical College of Georgia, some people "don't even know they have a
stone until it passes," indicating that at least not all kidney stones
need have a painful passage. ("Kidney Stones Treatable and Sometimes
Preventable," December 1994, Medical College of Georgia, )

One writer explained that while having kidney stones is a painful
thing, the actual passing of a stone isn't so bad. "I'm sure many of
you have heard that for a man to pass a kidney stone is similar to the
pain that a woman would experience when giving birth," he explains.
"Well, I didn't have much pain as I passed the stone..." (The Restroom
Wall, )

For an amusing look at the kidney stone vs. giving birth argument,
visit this site:
Here, one women explains how another lady told her husband that
passing a kidney stone was *worse* than having a baby.

But that opinion seems to be the exception, not the rule. (This make
sense to me because a kidney stone is rather small compared to the
head of a baby.) By far the most comments I've heard personally and
read on the Internet say that kidney stones don't really come close to
the pain of childbirth.

In reality, just how painful either birthing process is probably has
more to do with personal pain tolerances than anything else.

Keywords Used:
"kidney stone" "Giving birth"

"kidney stone" men women pain

pkp-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks, kriswrite-ga. I've given birth (and am about to do so again!),
but thankfully have not passed a kidney stone. I appreciate you taking
the time to document both the opinion of your relative as well as
research third party accounts from the web. You've more than met my
expectations for a $5 question.

Subject: Re: Comparing pain of passing a kidney stone vs. giving birth
From: pinkfreud-ga on 22 Nov 2002 16:34 PST
Passing kidney stones is typically more painful in men than in women,
since the male urethra is narrower.

Since there is no precise, objective way to quantify pain, and since
men (who experience the most pain with kidney stones) do not give
birth, it would seem impossible to have an accurate comparison of
these two phenomena.
Subject: Re: Comparing pain of passing a kidney stone vs. giving birth
From: revbrenda1st-ga on 22 Nov 2002 18:12 PST
I wanted so badly to answer your answer your question, pkp, but I knew
it wouldn't fly. My oldest child weighed in at 8 lb. 8 1/2 oz. -- my
youngest, 10 lb. 3 oz. I had very little discomfort. I've never had a
kidney stone so I was disqualified. To put some perspective into the
pain equation, though, I'd like to relate the story of my uncle's

My grandma was 55 -- she weighed (pregnant) 88 pounds and stood 4' 8".
The story has reached legendary proportions in my family. When she
went into labour, grandpa had to wake her up to tell her she was
moaning ... my uncle was born at home with no anaesthetic and no other
medical comfort. He weighed in at 14 pounds, five ounces.

I've seen strong men faint at the site of a small cut. Pain is a
relative thing and can't really be quantified, no matter what the
situation.  Personally, I think men are more susceptible to pain, but
that is by no means a proven, medical statement.

Subject: Re: Comparing pain of passing a kidney stone vs. giving birth
From: tlspiegel-ga on 22 Nov 2002 20:01 PST
Hello pkp,

Had to add my comment... my father was a Urologist.  It was typical
for him to remark on how much more painful it is for a man to pass
kidney stones than a woman.  Each sex will experience excruiating
pain, and every human has their own pain threshold.  However, as
pinkfreud said - the male urethra is very narrow.

Pain medication is usually give to mitigate the passing of stones. 
Also a contributing factor would be the size of the stones.  There are
many methods now available for passing stones including lazering then
to break them up.

Answers Researcher
Subject: Re: Comparing pain of passing a kidney stone vs. giving birth
From: jcg-ga on 23 Nov 2002 14:06 PST
Dear All,

The terrible pain of passing a kidney stone is associated with its
passing through the pelvis of the kidney and through the ureter (tube
carrying urine from kedney to baldder), not through the urethra.  The
size of the renal pelvis and ureters is the same in men and woomen.


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