Scientists led by Davide Malmusi, of the Public Health Agency of Barcelona, found that women did report health problems more often. However, they also suffered from a higher rate of chronic diseases.
The researchers disproved the theory that women tend to over-report health problems or pay more attention to their symptoms than men.
"These results suggest that the poorer self-rated health of women is a reflection of the higher burden of disease they suffer," the Daily Mail quoted the researchers as saying.
They looked at data from Spain's 2006 National Health Survey, which included interviews with 29,000 people who covered a wide age-range on how they rated their health.
They found 38.8 percent of women said their health was poor or very poor with 25.7 percent saying a chronic condition limited their activity. This compared to 27 percent of men who said they had poor health and 19.3 percent reporting a chronic condition.
However, the researchers found that this gender difference disappeared when they matched how many chronic conditions each person had with their health rating.
Women were no more likely than men to claim to have poorer health than men when they had the same condition. Women were actually more likely to report better health than men when they had the same number of conditions.
Women were more likely to suffer from arthritis, mental disorders and muscular problems.
"A health system responsive to gender inequalities should increase its efforts in addressing and resolving musculoskeletal, mental and other pain disorders, usually less considered in favour of disorders with greater impact on mortality," they added.
The study has been published in the European Journal of Public Health.