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Why do men suffer more when they have a cold?

May 23, 2017

When we make fun of men, saying they can't even suffer a simple cold, we don't realize that in fact men do suffer more than women when sick. However, research had not yet established the exact reason for that. Here are several possible reasons to consider:


The immune system of men has a stronger reaction:

Researches indicate that the immune system of men and women has a different reaction to viruses. A research, published in the scientific magazine "Brain, Behavior and Immunity", showed that when male and female mice were infected with viruses that cause the symptoms of flu, the male mice showed more symptoms of the disease. They suffered from body temperature changes, the inflammatory process was more apparent and the duration of the disease was longer.


This, for itself, doesn't say humans will react the same way as mice. However, microbiologists established that men's immune system, as well as male mice's immune system, has more active receptors sensitive to certain pathogens. This explains a lot when we remember that we feel sick not only because of the influence of viruses on our body, but also because of the state of our immune system.


It could be due to Testosterone:

Another hypothesis is that Testosterone and Estrogen influence the operation of the immune receptors. Experiments with Mice didn't identify any correlation between these hormones and the intensity of the cold symptoms. The experiments included sterilized animals, where there are significantly less sex hormones. Yet, the gender related differences in the response of the immune system persisted.


Other researches support the claim that hormones influence the tolerance to viral diseases. Human tissue rich with Estrogen showed improved tolerance to attempts of infection with influenza virus. This hypothesis requires further research, and was not yet proved nor refuted.



Maybe it's evolution:

A group of scientists from Cambridge claim that the male immune system is not as evolved as the female one. The reason they present is that male are attracted to hazardous activity. For thousands of years men were killed at hunting or at war and were not intended to reach old age. That is why they think that evolution didn't bother to grant creatures who risk their lives with a strong immune system.


Viruses act differently in a male or female body:

Another interesting approach claims that women developed stronger protection mechanisms in order not to pass diseases while pregnant or breast-feeding. Hence, in the feminine body viruses are "hiding" and pass to the children, while in the male body the manifestation of the disease is clearer and the disease is harder.


Men worry less for their health, and to hygiene:

Statistically, men approach the doctor less often than women, and more often neglect to wash their hands. This makes them more prone to complications of their disease.


Whatever the reason may be, sick men suffer more. It may be due to one of the reasons mentioned above, or maybe they just need a break from their tough manhood.

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