Men suffer more: The truth behind “man flu” revealed

Written by Jakob A. Overgaard

Oct.03 - 2023 11:46 PM CET

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

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The term “man flu” has often been used to mock men who appear to be excessively dramatic about their symptoms when sick. However, recent scientific evidence supports that men do, in fact, experience worse symptoms than women when struck by the flu.

This revelation might put an end to the eye-rolling and chuckles associated with men expressing their suffering during flu season.

The groundbreaking findings come from a Canadian researcher, revealing that men generally possess a weaker immune system compared to women. This discrepancy in immune strength is attributed to the differences in sex hormones between men and women.

Testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, seems to dampen the immune response, making men more susceptible to severe flu symptoms. On the other hand, estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, enhances women’s resistance to the flu, providing them with an extra layer of protection against the viral infection.

Rebecca Cox, the head of the Influenza Center at the University of Bergen, supports the conclusions drawn from this new study. She confirms that it’s not a mere myth when men appear to suffer more from the flu than women. According to Cox, men might indeed be hit harder by the flu, and the study from Stanford corroborates that high levels of testosterone reduce the amount of antibodies produced post-vaccination.

Additionally, there are articles suggesting that estrogen offers further protection, reinforcing the idea that women are better equipped to handle the flu.

This information sheds light on the long-standing joke about “man flu” and provides a scientific basis for the observed differences in flu experiences between the genders. It might also offer some consolation to men who have been teased for their apparent overreaction to flu symptoms in the past. With this newfound understanding, perhaps the term “man flu” will be used more sympathetically, acknowledging the genuine struggle men face during flu season.

So, the next time a man in your life seems to be “overreacting” to the flu, consider that his suffering might be real and scientifically justified. The revelation from this study not only validates men’s flu experiences but also contributes to a more empathetic understanding of gender differences in health and illness.