General Question

NerdyKeith's avatar

Is there any truth to the claim that a man passing kidney stones is just as painful as pregnancy?

Asked by NerdyKeith (5464points) April 17th, 2016
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

34 Answers

janbb's avatar

How can anybody know if it’s true?

NerdyKeith's avatar

Perhaps there is a way to record a person’s pain levels and make a comparison?

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

We all have different tolerance to pain. Go and sit in a hospital waiting room on a Saturday and look at the footy players calmly sitting with bones sticking out of their legs. If that was me, I’d be the hysterical woman screaming in the corner. Similarly, women deal with the pain of childbirth differently.

So you would need a woman who has both been through childbirth and passing a kidney stone and to have the ability to measure the levels of pain. However, it still wouldn’t answer the question, because women feel pain differently to men, and we are all individuals and the process of childbirth is not uniform.

trolltoll's avatar

Many women choose to give birth more than once in their life. No one would choose to pass a kidney stone more than once in their life.

canidmajor's avatar

Yes. No. Maybe. What @Earthbound_Misfit said.
This kind of “pain competition” comes up fairly frequently, and in my experience, the question is always raised by men.

@trolltoll: I have given birth and have also had a very painful cancer, and a damaged (and very painful) kidney. The first is a natural (if painful) life experience, with great benefits. The two latter were medical problems. Not even comparable. geez

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

The two things are not comparable @trolltoll.

filmfann's avatar

I had an enlarged prostate at the same time I had kidney stones, and my doctor said the pain would be comparable to giving birth, but it wasn’t as bad as an earache I once had, or occasionally my back.

trolltoll's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit why? and isn’t comparing them exactly what we’re doing here?

Pachy's avatar

I never had a baby but I used to have regular kidney stone attacks, and I can attest to how excruciatingly painful they are. They actually caused me to lose one kidney.

Thanks to a miracle drug called Allopurinol, I’ve been attack-free for many years.

Seek's avatar

I’ve never had kidney stones, but I have had a bladder infection while visiting a third world country with limited medical access. I also had an extended, complicated, post-dates natural delivery that took 37 hours and nearly killed me – legit, on paper, I nearly bled to death.

The last time I had abdominal pain, I hoped for a bladder infection instead of a pregnancy, and I love being a parent.

Let’s just put it that way.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

The way I’ve heard this is that passing a kidney stone is the closest a male will come to experiencing the pain of childbirth. It’s just something that’s said to express sympathy and has no great meaning.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

As a sufferer I can say that it’s close enough.

More than once the pain has been so great that I passed out on the floor in hospital, once at the reception desk, once in the waiting room.

As beyond painful as stones are I consider myself lucky. There’s so many people with much greater problems than mine.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

(NSFW ) I was told once by a woman that delivery was like a good poo when you are constipated for a few hours.

JLeslie's avatar

I have no idea, but I know women who have been through labor and delivery and say gall stone pain is worse.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

It’s about motivation @trolltoll. People are not motivated to have a kidney stone. It just happens and they won’t know they have it until the pain comes. So the two situations are not comparable. Pain we expect and have chosen to experience and that has a positive outcome compared to pain that suddenly occurs and is outside of our control.

A woman who is pregnant is usually motivated to be pregnant. They have made a conscious decision to give birth to a baby. They are motivated by the fact that after the pain they know they will endure, they will have a baby. That’s an enormous and usually positive motivation to endure the pain of childbirth, even if that pain is extreme and long-lasting. The delivery of a baby is the reason they repeatedly choose to go through the pain of childbirth, not because it’s not really that painful.

@JLeslie, I have had gallstone pain and I’ve experienced childbirth. I don’t believe the pain is comparable. It isn’t that the intensity of the pain is worse or better than the other, but the resolution of the pain is different. In my case, the gallstone pain passed after a few hours (it recurred a couple of times). Childbirth lasted many more hours and came in waves. The intensity of the pain as labour progressed was at least as bad, if not worse than the pain I experienced when having a gallstone episode. However, I knew the childbirth pain would end when the baby was delivered and I had chosen to be in that position. With gallstone pain, the pain was unexpected when it occurred and while I expected the pain would end, I had no idea when it would end or what would prevent it happening again. As I recall the pain intensity, childbirth was worse.

However, this is my experience. Some women experience much more painful childbirth than I did (for some it is less painful) and I’m sure the kidney or gallstone pain others experience is also worse (or better) than my experience. Again, how bad the pain is is also affected by our own personal tolerance limits.

Coloma's avatar

I had severe kidney infections until it was discovered I had a blocked Ureter in my left Kidney way back when now and I have also given birth, once and only once, a hefty and a quarter pounder. lol
I would say both were about equal in pain comparison, but I didn’t pass out giving birth, I did with one severe infection, the pain was unbearable and I have a pretty high pain tolerance.
I did throw up with both the Kidney pain and the contractions. Oh joy. haha

Coloma's avatar

Edit: 8 and a quarter pounder. Not a ¼ ponder. lol

Seek's avatar

I’ve also had gallstone pain. I willingly put up with that off and on for three years. Childbirth, for me, was worse. I was able to go back to work two days after gallbladder surgery with no meds.

But then, not everyone has 37 hours of back labor, a failed epidural, a 10½ lb baby, a major tear, and then a life-threatening hemorrhage.

Childbirth kills. Use birth control.

cazzie's avatar

Passing gall stones was worse for me than childbirth, even with my kid being a star-gazer, I got off pretty easy. I didn’t tear, the doctors were right there with the help I needed with an episiotomy, and I didn’t have an epidural. I just had a bit of gas at the beginning, but when they realised he wasn’t coming out, I stopped with the gas and got my head together. I was determined to have a vaginal birth and not have them cut through my stomach. Gall stones, when I didn’t know what the pain was, was scarier and more painful than childbirth, but now that I know what it is, I don’t even bother to go to the ER any more. I haven’t had an attack in years and my stones are really small and just pass. As long as I stay away from large amounts of full fat products, I’m good.

It is hard to explain the pain from child birth because the contractions are taking place in a muscle structure men don’t have, under the influence of hormones men don’t have. It is arguably the strongest muscle in the human body, (too difficult to measure, so the jaw always gets the credit) The layers of muscle is like nothing else.
They have tried to simulate the conditions so men can experience something like childbirth, but it could never be exactly the same, of course.

I’ve had pinched nerves in my back and hips this past year and that pain had me in tears and unable to walk, so I would say that a bulged disk is more painful.

canidmajor's avatar

So, I’m wondering, based on this, who wins? What’s the prize? I am happy to let it be known that the men on this thread all have bigger penises than I do. Yay, you! :-)

JLeslie's avatar

^^Maybe it’s not about winning, but understanding.

Cupcake's avatar

They’re similar pain. My kidney stones, though, were painful for a month. Labor lasted a day or two. Labor pains are regular and intensify, where kidney stone pain would swell up at unexpected times and just be a standard, expected level of pain the rest of the time.

With the kidney stones, though, there was this sense of me needing to decide what to do about them. Do I want surgery? Do I want to wait? I had ultrasounds that drastically under-sized the stones, so I waited for a few weeks for them to pass before I agreed to the laser surgery. Even then, I was concerned that it was “unnecessary”. It was a very difficult decision to make when my doctor thought that they would pass on their own.

With labor, obviously the childbirth is coming. The decision-making process is usually based on fetal distress. Different ballgame.

I remember crawling to the bathroom in tears to pee with kidney stones. I also remember begging my OB to give me a c-section because I couldn’t stand any more.

Similar, but I’ll take 2 days over a month.

jca's avatar

My water broke at 1:00 in the morning Wednesday morning and the baby was born 10:00 p.m Thursday night – about 45 hours later. In the interim, I got an infection in the form of a fever because it had been more than 24 hours with the water broken. I was asking for a C-Section but with a fever and infection, surgery is not the best option. I had Pitocin, for which the pain is worse, they say, but I also had an epidural. What I found out in the middle of childbirth is that the epidural can be raised or lowered to varying degrees, so it’s not just “with an epidural you don’t feel anything” or “with an epidural I still had pain.” Not only is pain subjective but with the epidural, I had mine at about half strength. The doctor said “if you can’t feel your legs, you can’t push” so he made it at what was maybe half-strength. I definitely felt it. After I had the baby I got up to go to the bathroom and fainted and hit my head on the bathroom sink.

I don’t think anybody’s childbirth can be compared, pain-wise to anybody else’s, as pain is subjective. As I wrote above, what I heard is that Pitocin makes the pain worse because the contractions are stronger and more condensed. Also, the first child usually takes longer to come out as the muscles are tighter. I’m pretty good with handling pain (major surgeries I’ve had I’ve not used any painkillers for recovery). I don’t think a man would ever be able to understand the pain of childbirth and I don’t think someone who’s never had kidney stones will ever understand that pain (myself included, as I’ve never had them).

cazzie's avatar

Yeah. They gave me Picodin too because they thought my contractions weren’t strong enough because he wasn’t coming. They didnt know he was face up.

Coloma's avatar

I have a kidney stone right now, a 5mm one in my left Kidney but it is not moving or causing any pain, still, I am waiting, it’s a time bomb.

@jca Agree, our labors are quite similar, my water broke at 11 p.m. and my daughter was not born until the following night at 11:29. They induced me because labor was not starting after about 10 – 12 hours. That was bad, came on like a freight train, I pushed for 4 hours and she would crown and then suck back in, the kid had a head like a Cantaloupe, lol
I almost had to have a C-section as both our heart rates were getting dicey. Finally, with one last effort she popped out. haha

Mariah's avatar

I have passed four kidney stones. I am a woman, but despite popular belief, the experience is not that different between men and women. The most painful part of passing a kidney stone is not when it goes through the urethra. The painful part is when it goes through the ureter, which is the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder. This tube is much thinner than the urethra is for either sex. Also, once a stone reaches the bladder, it spends awhile there and gets significantly smaller and smoothened by erosion before entering the urethra. Exiting the body through the urethra is more painful for men because men have much longer and thinner urethras than women, but for both sexes this experience pales in comparison to the experience of getting it through the ureter.

The argument “people choose to go through childbirth multiple times but wouldn’t choose to pass another kidney stone” is pretty stupid because in childbirth you get something at the end. Obviously the desire for another child overpowers the desire to not go through more pain. You don’t get anything out of passing a kidney stone. Nobody would ever have a reason to want to pass a kidney stone.

Seek's avatar

I still wonder what natural contractions feel like. I’ve only had pitocin contractions.

janbb's avatar

@Seek They hurt!

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

^ What she said.

JLeslie's avatar

Women I know who have done it both with Pitocin and without say the Pitocin is much worse. I’m sure some women have very bad experience without Pitocin, but the general consensus seems to be it’s worse with the drug.

janbb's avatar

@JLeslie I’ve heard that too and believe it. Luckily, no one is competing for more pain.

Coloma's avatar

I’d agree. The Pitocin induced contractions were like going for 0 to 60 in a nano second.
From ” Oh, this isn’t so bad” to ” just let me die now.

fluthernutter's avatar

@Seek Personally, if pitocin without an epidural is a 10, natural contractions without an epidural was a 2.75–3.00 for me.

(My pain scale coming in before induced labor was totally different than the one coming out.)

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