In a study published by Nature Portfolio Journal: Mental Health Research, Flo Health has illuminated the effects of acute stress on pain perception among women during the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. This research, marking the first real-world examination of ‘stress-induced analgesia’ (SIA), offers critical insights into the relationship between heightened stress and reduced pain sensitivity.

For this study Flo, a women’s health app with 58 million monthly active users, utilized de-identified data from 87,315 Ukrainian women. These participants, all users of the app, were actively logging symptoms before and after the conflict began. The data revealed a notable increase in stress levels coinciding with a decrease in reported pain, providing the largest documented case study of SIA outside a laboratory setting according to the company.

The implications of this research extend far beyond academic interest though. Understanding how stress impacts pain perception in real-life scenarios is crucial for the development of more effective treatments and support for women worldwide. The study not only advances our comprehension of stress and pain but also highlights the potential for mobile technology in gathering valuable health data.

With studies like this Flo aims to bridge the gender gap in medical research and improve women’s day-to-day lives by delving into various health topics, from menstrual symptomatology to reproductive aging. The study, a collaboration between Flo and Professor Sarah Garfinkel from University College London, is a testament to the potential of combining technology, academic expertise, and real-world data for the betterment of global health.

“While the circumstances in which this research takes place is tragic, Flo Health hopes the findings will help medical and scientific communities better understand women’s health and how chronic stress can affect their bodies,” said Aidan Wickham, Lead Research Scientist from Flo Health. “Understanding the relationship between stress and pain in real-world settings has profound implications for women’s health. We’re committed to researching topics that are often overlooked as we aim to build a better future for women around the world.”

“War is devastating for human life, but with the advent of new remote technology we are able to document how stress impacts pain. This work is crucial for understanding factors that may alleviate pain in the real world, highlighting the role of stress mediated mechanisms. With the advent of pharmacological and behaviour interventions that can alter the cardiovascular system implicated in stress, but without inducing extreme stress, we may be able to better develop and inform non-invasive ways to help alleviate pain,” said Professor Sarah Garfinkel, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL, who collaborated with Flo on the narrative and the outcomes of the research.

As Flo and the wider scientific community continue to explore the complex interplay between stress, pain, and overall health, this study serves as a starting point, guiding towards a future where women’s health is better understood, and their well-being a priority.

Show CommentsClose Comments

Leave a comment